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GCSE: Margaret Atwood
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In What Ways Does Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, and Atwood's The Handmaids Tale explore the Theme of Oppression?
Most characters in both novels have had their sense of personal identity stripped away from them. The societies they live in have de-humanised them, so each individual no longer holds distinctive characteristics. Offred, in The Handmaid's Tale must learn to forget who she is, thus totally erasing her past. "my name is Offred now" there is something rather disturbing about this quote as the reader is now aware that Offred, whose real name is never revealed to the reader, has lost her uniqueness (and freedom). It also shows that Offred has conformed to the Gileadean regime as she has now accepted her new name which is "composed of the possessive preposition...first name of the gentlemen in
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Even the roles of the commanders wives have little importance they are given trivial meaningless tasks such as tending to the gardens as this is their 'domain' which they can control and care for maybe a replacement for the children, they also knit scarves for the Angels upfront however Offred claims that "Maybe its something to keep the wives busy, to give them a sense of purpose." There is also the role of the aunts which could also be seen as very important as well because it is these older women who brainwash these teachings into the handmaids to let them fulfil their duties.
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Compare and contrast their representation of the different social and cultural forces which contribute to the repressive state.
Dickens, in 1854 likewise attempted to offer a vision; a vision that challenged the utilitarian philosophy of the time in Industrial Britain. From the 1820's-1850's "Benthamism represented of the prominent exemplar of scientific and materialistic reasoning with respect to social and government activity"ii. Benthamism, named after the work of Jeremy Bentham sought to develop a scientific legislation to effect social progress - it has been directly linked by many critics to the instigation of social reforms in industrial Britain such as the reforms act of 1832.
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Compare the ways in which narrative perspectives vary in 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' and 'Hawksmoor'.
We also get many of his thoughts in italic, like "(another giddy son of a w***e)". The inward perspective that we are given with Dyer also helps us to see aspects of his character like the way he, like Charles in 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', is a rebel in the society with his fascination with science and black magic, for which would both have been shunned because the only truth at the time was Christianity. The purpose of this is to show the past through the eyes of someone who lives in the past, like a diary that follows their reports on events.
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The strict religious code of Waknuk, and also the abuse of Old Testament values in Gilead, reveals the extended irony throughout both novels, especially "The Handmaids Tale". Religion is one of the most important aspects of control used in both Gilead and Waknuk. The protagonist Offred in "The Handmaids Tale" reveals not only the use, but also the abuse of the Bible in Gilead. Male figures of authority alter Biblical scriptures appropriately for personal benefits and also to increase their level of control: "Blessed are the silent.
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What do you find interesting about the ways in which Margaret Atwood presents relationships between men and women?
However, throughout the novel Offred's attitude towards the commander fluctuates, she thinks of him as both a peron for whom she can have affectionate feelings and a figure of authority, of whom she must be wary. The turbulent nature of their realtionship reflects the constant power battle which Atwood suggests is inherrent in heterosexual relationships within s****t cultures. This issue is explicitely raised by Moira when she tells Offred that s*x is only an equal "even Stephen" act within h********l relationships, this may well be a reference and avocation of the infamous feminist slogan, "the personal is political".
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