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How atwood creates paralysis over the audience

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Introduction

Paralysis Essay Question: In The Handmaid's Tale, a state of paralysis results from the fear that consumes both the individual and society. How does Atwood explore this paralysis in her dystopia? Different states of paralysis are explored within Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale. Through the paralysis of emotions, time, knowledge and women's identity the reader gains a broader understanding of dystopic fiction and the techniques employed to create the totalitarian society portrayed in Atwood's eloquently written novel. The empathy and connection with the protagonist evoked from Offred's circumstances ironically derives from the use of her disconnected narration. The paralysis of emotions that Offred experiences, comes from the culture of fear instigated within the oppressive society of Gilead. Atwood utilizes the style of a "stream of consciousness" avoiding the scrutinizing planned sentences of common novels. Offred's first person narration creates a strong link with the reader through the visceral flow of thought. However this spontaneous narration and somewhat incoherent sequence of recitation also evokes the detached emotional response of Offred. ...read more.

Middle

She is stuck in a world of ennui and static where everything is uniform and meaningless. The totalitarian society of Gilead is a common convention of the dystopic genre. What makes Atwood's novel so successful is the plausibility of this dystopia where the predominant themes in the book are congruent to present day society. The issue of the oppression of women is delved into and analyzed excessively in The Handmaid's Tale using cognition to stimulate the reader's impression and influence their understanding of this controversial theme. The uniformity and subjugation of women is explored in many different ways throughout the text. The categorization of "handmaids, Wives, Marthas and Econowives" is a derogatory approach to paralyzing the identity of women. Another technique is the confiscation of ordinary names and the replacement with patriarchal identities. For example, the handmaids' names are replaced with the suffix of their commanders Christian name and the prefix "Of" such as the handmaid of the commander; Glen, is referred to as "Ofglen". This denial of such a simple right strips the women of their identity and leaves them vulnerable to the male-dominated society. ...read more.

Conclusion

No wonder we can't come in here. It's an oasis of the forbidden. I try not to stare" p147. When Offred sees the other side of her imprisonment, one with such precious and forbidden things she is in awe. The use of the metaphor "it's an oasis of the forbidden" contrasts the connotations of oasis and forbidden. An oasis suggests a paradise or haven but forbidden galvanizes the fear involved with such wonderment. By taking away such a simple "privilege" or daily activity, it leaves the handmaids feeling desperate and even more demoralized than the brutal physical and mental torture they customarily endure. Throughout the novel the reader experiences the different states of paralysis within Gilead and gains insight into Offred's situation. The plausibility of this paralysis as a result of excessive power and control arouses apprehension within the reader and encourages a reaction. The typical dystopic conventions Atwood employs coincide with the themes present in the text. As a result of Atwood's satirical masterpiece the reader is warned of the consequences that could arise in the future if issues of current society are not dealt with. ...read more.

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