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GCSE: Margaret Atwood
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However, the one thing that Gilead cannot possibly control is the power of thought and memories of the past. Offred uses her memories of her pas life to "[...] save [her sanity] so [she] will have enough when the [regime is destroyed]" (Atwood 135). She uses much of her free time to think of many things in her past since it comforts her. Among these things, she spends a great deal of time thinking of Moira because "it makes [her] feel safer that Moira is [there]" with her (Atwood 88). In the past, Offred would call Moira regularly for comfort in times of hardship, such as the loss of her job at the library.
- Word count: 1040
This issue runs in all aspects of different societies and isn't going anywhere because this stereotype is deeply embedded in the psyche of our society. These stereotypes are present in the media and this means that these gender roles are considered part of entertainment; they are accepted by everyone in our society as being "proper" even if they create inequality and discrimination in our lives. Through the use of tropology the reader sees the similarities in pre-Gilead and in Gilead females were the target of oppression and they had to sacrifices their rights so men don't commit immoral acts such as gang rape on the females.
- Word count: 1927
However this spontaneous narration and somewhat incoherent sequence of recitation also evokes the detached emotional response of Offred. She is void of all feeling and passion which is seen through the indifferent descriptions of her surroundings "On the wall above the chair, a picture, framed but with no glass: a print of flowers, blue irises, watercolour" p17. The small apathetic commentaries from Offred give greater insight into her character but at the same time separate her circumstances from her emotions, paralysing the liveliness she once possessed. The novel, to an extent, is written from two perspectives; a typical characteristic of dystopic literature - dual narration.
- Word count: 1147
The third epigraph (Sufi proverb) claims that no one needs to forbid anything that is undeniable even when in a desperate situation, the undesirable could be the solution. The deliberate confusion of the opening chapter where Atwood had chosen to hold back large amounts of information causing the reader to become curious and wanting to read more into the story, the narrator of the story who we are unaware of at this stage is not bothering to introduce to the readers what is happening around her, it seems that the narrator is not just telling the story but merely reminding
- Word count: 1046
If the women do not conceive, they are labelled as "barrens" and so hence are sent to the colonies from where they would eventually die. Some women in the novel (the sterile handmaids) are often classified as "unwomen" and so therefore are in Gilead's view "inhuman". Women in terms of Gilead are possessions of men and have no liberty of choice. They are not free to choose when or who to have sex with, they are banned from relationships and are not able to choose what to do in life.
- Word count: 1438
But, illuminating these things meant that they would loose their freedom and self respect. The Aunts say things like, "You see what things used to be like? That was what they thought of women, then". They give the women no other choice into what to believe. Moira, who represents Offred's guidance and hope tells her the film is probably a fraud so Gilead's regime is trying to get the handmaid's to feel as if they are privileged to be in their position because the time before was horrific. However, Atwood shows us how unhappy women are now that Gilead stopped them from having any freedom.
- Word count: 1295
Barnard, in fact, associates "shadow" connotatively with two things: changing matters in the outside world and new life. Although it is not presented clearly in the story, Barnard reflects her idea through the descriptions of the narrator about the "shadow": "the movement of the branches [shadows] in the wind [seem] different." (par.12) "the bare twigs [are] beginning to swell with buds [that represent new life]." The "shadow", as described by Barnard, is itself a life, "[having] the wall on to itself."
- Word count: 1425
Central in these ideals is biblical passage from Genesis 30: 1 - 3, which reads: And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.
- Word count: 1894
In 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and 'The Remains of the Day' by Kazuo Ishiguro compare how the authors focus on identity through the use of their characters and their relationships.
The relationships explore within this novel are also used to enforce the hierarchy within Darlington hall. Both novels are shown to explore various themes including that of, Age, Personal interaction, Dignity (or a lack of dignity), regret loss and above all else personal identity and its effect on the individual characters identity. In "THT" Offred's society is set within a dystopian future whereas in "TROTD" Stevens is set within a nostalgic backdrop of rural England. This contrast of setting is ideal when comparing the main characters from the two novels. On one side we have Offred caught within a future that holds no resemblance to its former beauty and morals (we notice that various landmarks in "THT" i.e.
- Word count: 1298
They show the handmaid's old pornographic films and photographs. They also damn the previous society by emphasising that women in "the old days" were disgusting and how they didn't respect themselves. An Aunt has got to fulfil this powerful authority to be thought of as useful and to take away or ease their fear of being shipped away as they are infertile. They enforce the law not only by propaganda but also by using physical violence. "No guns though, even they couldn't be trusted with guns" (1) This quote is important as it illustrates the social status of the Aunts.
- Word count: 1272
This is done so that characters such as Moira are able to stand out as a symbol of strong feminism contrasting to the normal situation. We see this when Offred when meets Moira who has been recaptured and is working as a prostitute at Jezebel's, servicing the Commanders. Margaret Atwood by placing Moira not as a handmaid but as a prostitute represents an alternative to the lower subservience and acceptance of the fate that most of the Handmaids adopt as she rejected the position of a handmaid once again showing her strength and disagreement with the society unlike Offred's involvement.
- Word count: 1112
The extract from the novel is designed as a brief introduction to the narrator's current life. The paragraphs make it easy to divide into five sections; the narrator's own view of her existence, her surroundings, her husband, her children, and her career. In each section, the key themes, which often surface in the novel, are hinted at. In the narrator's opening, she implies feelings of self-doubt, and introduces the idea of disguise. Although she is initially defensive, "I do of course have a real life," it becomes clear that, rather than accusing the reader of doubting her, she is instead accusing herself.
- Word count: 1222
Giving voices to suppressed groups or individuals is recognized as a preoccupation of contemporary writing. Discuss contemporary works which you have studied with this preoccupation in view
Her flood of tears that had cascaded down when she was born symbolized a sorrowful life. The birth room-the kitchen, foreshadowed the strong ties that Tita's life were to have with the kitchen and food, 'it [kitchen] is a source of knowledge and understanding that generates life and pleasure.'-Laura Esquivel1 Tita struggled to appease Mama Elena's propriety that was revealed through the symptoms and illnesses caused by Tita's food in her attempt (if not purposefully) to ruin her sister Rosaura's wedding.
- Word count: 1058
"Formerly" suggests that the games used to be played (games represent fun and a sense freedom) but are now forbidden. The fact that the games have been forbidden raises questions as to who has banned them, and shows that there is obviously some sort of authority here. Atwood identifies the girls by image, rather than name or speech; "Felt skirted as I knew them from pictures, later in mini-skirts, then pants....." This shows that Atwood wanted, to a certain extent, to keep the girls anonymous, thus, I imagine increasing the mysteriousness of the passage.
- Word count: 1078
Margaret Thatcher, who was elected Prime Minister of England in 1979, reversed decades of socialism by selling government-run industries to private owners. In the United States, the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan created such a turbulent reversal of previous social policy that the changes sweeping through the government during the first half of the decade came to be referred to as "the Reagan Revolution." The extreme shift toward conservatism in the United States at that time is significant to the social change that created the Republic of Gilead in Atwood's imagination.
- Word count: 1405
The opening page portrays sexual tension and 'old sex in the room' referring to the later implications of her desire for freedom and the sexual tension between the other handmaid's and the 'Angels' and 'Guards'. The setting of where they are sleeping in the old gymnasium signifies an imprisonment where orders were given and completed and often they were kept in a confined space being controlled by a person of higher status. We see a clear sign of this in which where she sleeps hence the quotation, 'the army cots that had been set up in rows, with spaces between so that we cannot talk'.
- Word count: 1938
Infertile women that possess leadership qualities typically are Aunts. Aunts are in charge of schooling handmaids and enforcing female obedience to the regime. Other infertile women lacking leadership qualities are Marthas. The Marthas exist as servants, who cook and clean for the elite. Jezebels, who serve as prostitutes, are also infertile: "nobody in here with viable ovaries either, you can see what kind of problems it would cause" (p. 313). Econowives have a lower status than wives, but are fertile.
- Word count: 1170
The Handmaid's Tale - The narrator says of her tale, 'I'm sorry it's like fragments, like a body caught in crossfire and pulled apart by force'. How appropriate a description of the structure of the novel do you consider this?
As she narrates about her life, in Gilead and the time before, she presents herself appealingly. She shows resistance to the current regime. She wishes to establish in Gilead two feelings rigorously suppressed: she wishes to talk and she hungers to 'commit the act of touch' (2:14). Her frequent juxtaposing of her past and preset creates a powerful sense of, not only loss, but also a feeling of great longing for her past life. As she recounts episodes that occur in the regime i.e.
- Word count: 1180
'And sometimes from the sitting room there will be thin sound of Serena's voice, from a disc made long ago and played now with the volume low, so she won't be caught listening...' With Serena Joy, although it is obvious she does not agree with regime entirely, this would be more so an act of rebellion than it would be resistance, like with the cigarettes from the black market. With the turn of the new season, the narrator describes how the house easily heats up.
- Word count: 1315
Consider the way in which Atwood presents Professor Piexto's speech in the Historical Notes. What is its significance in relation to the novel as a whole?
It is also important in a much more simple sense, that it satisfies the readers curiosity over what happens to the main character and brings the novel to a more satisfactory close. Over the course of the novel the reader has built up a close relationship with Offred through her telling her story completely in the first person. This has the effect of making the reader feel a close connection with Offred, and care what happens to her. The Historical Notes also place the novel in its historical context.
- Word count: 1014
The Handmaid's Tale - Read back over the opening six chapters - Write about how these chapters represent aspects of Offred's world and introduces Gilead to the reader.
Their lives are mundane and monotonous and the freedom of choice bares no existence. The fencing and barbed wire does not spark off ideas of protection but prevention, preventing the women from trying to escape. The atrocious treatment of the women leads us to question who is the inhumane authoritarian that causes such suffering? We are led to question the barbaric treatment of the women and this quite neatly prepares us for the introduction of the Gileadian regime. 'Aunt Sara and Aunt Elizabeth patrolled'.
- Word count: 1948
It is quietly upheld by those at the top of the hierarchy but is under constant threat of reform. Unlike men, women have been facing problems for centuries, and still women experience harassment and discrimination. Though some problems are unavoidable, along with male domination and the laws of society, women have had to contend with other challenging and oppressing situations. Despite this, women in modern society are becoming more powerful and can counteract any problems with lawsuits and protest rallies. In Gilead, though, women and in particular the Handmaid's, are just mute, replaceable objects. As Rita, one of the Martha's says ' She didn't work out' about one of the previous Handmaid's, as if she was an item purchased, but faulty and returned.
- Word count: 1829
For example, the Commanders at the top of the social hierarchy are allowed certain privileges. The Commanders are forbidden from interacting with the Handmaids in any manner, apart from "the Ceremony." "I can see now, it's the Commander, he isn't supposed to be here" (page 59) suggesting a slight rebellion in the regimental system on his part. Oppression in Gilead is imposed by the law, and they attempt to censor or even prohibit sexual urges in men as well as women.
- Word count: 1202
The Handmaid's Tale - What do you find interesting about the way that Atwood presents women in the novel? Focus on two characters in your answer.
It is said that an author's purpose for writing dystopian novel is to explore the possible developments of societal trends and warn readers of their potentially dangerous consequences, if this true, then in this case Margaret Atwood warning us through the satire images in The Handmaid's Tale to be aware of political and religious powers that could take away society's freedom of thought and expression. There are many themes in The Handmaid's Tale, one of which is feminism. Feminism is quite difficult term to define mostly because it is not a uniform body of thought in terms of sociological perspectives
- Word count: 1259
She says: "It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village." She narrates that this place makes her think of English places that someone would read about because, "there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for gardeners and people." However although on the surface this may seem pleasing, in terms of the underlying symbolism, it represents isolation and restriction. The wall and locks link to the way the narrator feels increasingly trapped throughout the narrative. This negative symbolism continues when we are told of the room the narrator is given in the house.
- Word count: 1320