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GCSE: Margaret Atwood

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  1. 19th Century short stories - womens rights

    She is not allowed to be herself so she confides in "dead paper". This allows the reader to see who she is - a strong-minded and independent woman, shown by the repetition of "personally". Physically the narrator is trapped by the room which she is staying in, "for the windows are barred". These barred windows can symbolise entrapment or a prison cell. From the beginning of the text the story is very personal as it is written in the first person. The narrator is very interesting as she writes using many one sentence paragraphs, making the story seem very realistic, "Still I proudly declare that there is something queer about it."

    • Word count: 2629
  2. "The Handmaids Tale" By Margaret Atwood, "The importance of being Ernest" by Oscar Wilde and a speech by Margaret Thatcher at Brighton at a Conservative party conference in 1969 on a motion to increase the equality of women in society.

    The only people to have power are males, only high ranking males known as 'Commanders' but what they are commander of is never revealed but these are the only persons permitted to procreate, and if their 'Wife' is unable to produce offspring then a 'Handmaid' is allocated to the Commander as in Genesis, 30:1-3 in the bible where Rachel, the wife of Jacob is unable to reproduce so offers her handmaid to him so they may have children, this is where the Gilead society gain their ideas of handmaids for breeding, showing that it is an traditional and outdated society.

    • Word count: 2592
  3. Offred's Narrative - What is the purpose and function of the 'Historical Notes' and how do they assist your interpretation of the novel?

    Also the name of the university sounds like the sentence 'Deny None Of it' suggesting that Offred's story was all true despite what my be said or not said in the historical notes. The purpose of the lecturer that Atwood created Professor James Darcy Pieixto is to give readers a masculine view of Offred's story which is ironic due to the domineering and powerful roles that the males played in Offred's world and how they made her and other women feel completely helpless, by choosing to tell her story it gives Offred the only power she could grasp over them that was much more than just being passive.

    • Word count: 2061
  4. What specific aspects of society do you think Atwood comments on in The Handmaid's Tale and how does she do this?

    In an interview with Gabriele Metzler Atwood says, "There is nothing in the book that hasn't already happened. All things described in the book people have already done to each other"(2). Throughout 'The Handmaid's Tale' Offred is constantly conscious of her life before Gilead. This is reflected in the sections of the book headed "Night". Offred often refers back to her life with her daughter and Luke, "Luke was in the living room. He put his arms around me. We were both feeling miserable. How were we to know we were happy, even then? Because we at least had that: arms, around."

    • Word count: 2598
  5. The Handmaid's Tale - What are the main methods of control in the Gileadean regime and how are these portrayed?

    The government in Gilead felt society was getting out of hand and something had to be done. Propaganda was used to brainwash the Handmaid's into accepting their new regime as 'normality.' They were taught to believe that in the time before women were 'lazy' and 'they were sluts' they were told this to persuade them that the way they used to live was wrong. Gilead first came about when birth rate began to decline, women thought 'there was no sense in breeding,' because they were convinced that 'the world would explode.' As a result of this attitude towards reproduction the government took control and replaced women's freedom with this religious military regime which involves giving birth to a child for a couple who cannot conceive.

    • Word count: 2448
  6. 'Discuss Atwood's presentation of Gilead in the first seventy-six pages of the novel'.

    It is through flashbacks and daily rituals within the Commander's household that the reader learns not only of how Gilead came about but about its violent ethos, limitations and authority. From what Atwood has indicated, the establishment of Gilead was a gradual one, its approach insidious. The founding of the new republic was slow to begin with, influencing only those who chose to watch the programmes it aired featuring the spiritual leadership of Serena Joy and fellow preachers. As the social morality of the time reached a climax of corruption, more and more people turned to the traditional values for guidance, those particularly held by the Church.

    • Word count: 2412
  7. Compare and contrast "The Wars" and "The Handmaid's Tale".

    After being put into compromising positions by the government, soldiers are forced to take matters into their own hands to save themselves. Robert and his fellow soldiers face a chlorine gas attack, and Robert finds out his men do not have gas masks. "Robert turned and shouted hoarsely to the men below him. Put your masks on!" Bates then replies, "We can't sir... They sent us up so quickly that none of us was issued masks." (Findley 123) Because of this failure on the part of the government, Robert is forced to take matters into his own hands, and orders his men to urinate on their handkerchiefs and breathe through the saturated material so they can survive the attack.

    • Word count: 2003
  8. What analysis of the female role does Margaret Atwood offer in ' The Handmaid's Tale'?

    The Marthas wear green dresses, the Wives blue dresses and the handmaids wear red. The handmaids' red, nun-like uniform symbolizes their imprisonment in that role. 'Everything except the wings around my face is red: the colour of blood, which defines us.' The red colour of the handmaids' dresses symbolizes fertility, which is their primary function. Red may also suggest the blood of the menstrual cycle and childbirth. Although the handmaid's role is the most important in this patriarchal society, they are treated as the lowest class. In Gilead, women are treated like objects and all of their rights are taken away from them.

    • Word count: 2846
  9. The Gothic Elements in the HandMaid's Tale.

    Those who do bare children are highly praised and greatly admired. The handmaids must wear the prescribed 'habit', and must not look in the eyes of men. The women are treated as slaves in the new society and are brainwashed to think that this is alright. They are dominated by the men who hold all power. "We aren't allowed to go there except in twos. This is supposed to be for our own protection, though this notion is absurd: we are all protected already. The truth I that she is my spy, and I am hers."

    • Word count: 2095
  10. Compare and contrast the narrative structures in 'White Teeth' and 'Beloved' and how the past affects the present.

    The four sections 'Archie 1974, 1945', 'Samad 1984, 1857', 'Irie 1990, 1907' and 'Magid, Millat and Marcus 1992, 1999' provide the reader with a clear cut structure to the novel, with the past and present accurately intertwined. The separate 'books' in the novel help the reader to understand how each character feels about the others, and therefore explores their relationships between time. The main example of this is the fact the Archie and Samad have been best friends since the Second World War.

    • Word count: 2840

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Discuss The Handmaids Tale as a significant dystopian novel. What affect can it have on the reader?

    "My original argument stated that The Handmaid's Tale is a good example of a dystopian novel. I have come to the conclusion that my hypothesis is correct, as The Handmaid's Tale includes all the features of a good dystopian novel. Margaret Atwood does this by telling us the story through the eyes of Offred who is experiencing the life of Gilead. She gives good descriptions of Offred's emotional status and very cleverly interprets an opposite to what Gilead wants, Moira. Offred gives vivid descriptions of what she goes through, this makes the reader feel sympathy for her. Atwood also describes things that are both familiar and unfamiliar to us. This is good as it makes the reader think a little and use some imagination to the unfamiliar aspects of the story, though some of these aspects of the story are quite shocking. It is also good that Atwood makes Offred's character progress throughout, from a weak woman who wants to avoid confrontation and just live by the rules, to a woman who is prepared to take risks for her benefit."

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