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University Degree: Margaret Atwood

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  1. How does Atwood portray the Commander to us in the novel ‘ The Handmaid’s Tale’.

    This is a military term, although what he commands is a mystery to the reader. We are also unsure whether he loves or loathes women, due to his diverse relationships with the women in his household. At the beginning of Chapter 15 we see the Commander as an obnoxious man. He doesn't wait for permission to enter 'Serena's Territory' but steps forward into the room anyway. This rude action is seen to be a deliberate attempt to show his importance. In her description of the Commander before the first ceremony, Atwood uses language such as, 'a chair reserved for him', and 'uncommunicative' and 'innocuous', which makes him appear distant from all the other members of the household.

    • Word count: 1176
  2. Investigate the theme of power, as presented in The Handmaid’s Tale.

    As a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, her sole function is to bear her Commander children. She is regarded by the state as a thing, not a person - hence her name Of-Fred (Fred is the name of her Commander). The Commander and his Wife are both superior to Offred in Gilead's hierarchy. Below her come all the other members of society. Of course, this does not automatically mean that she has power over all the lower classes. They are responsible to the Commander and his Wife only. Offred herself, of course, is responsible to the Commander, although the Wife also has the power to get rid of her: "If I'm caught it's up to Serena's tender mercies I'll be delivered.

    • Word count: 903
  3. In close analysis of Nick’s character discuss whether he is Offreds saviour or her down fall.

    Nick is the driver for the commander and lives in a room above the garage by himself. He has a French face, lean with all the angles and "creases around his mouth where he smiles." He dresses in dark clothes so if she wants to fantasise about him she can, tall, dark and handsome. Nick is mysterious to us at first as we did not know if he an eye or not he wears the uniform of the Guardians but his "cap is tilted at a jaunty angle and his sleeves are rolled to the elbow."

    • Word count: 801
  4. Writer’s craft comparative essay - Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood.

    In 1944, she graduated from high school and began attending the United College in Winnipeg. She worked as the assistant editor of the college newspaper before graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1947. In September of the same year, she married Jack Laurence, a hydraulic engineer. For a period she worked as a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press. Their daughter, Jocelyn was born in 1952 in England and their son, David, was born in Ghana in 1955.

    • Word count: 1025
  5. Character Analysis - The Commander/Commanders.

    "You want my life to be bearable..............I do. I would prefer it." This quote shows that the Commander, who is supposed to feel nothing towards the Handmaids, can't help giving into his sympathy, as it is a natural thing for people to do. His character also conveys the feminist and socialist issues, both negatively and positively. Although he leaves the character of Offred little choice in Whether or not she agrees to meet him, it also shows that she is needed and that she has something that he wants even though she is female and socially beneath her.

    • Word count: 934
  6. What is the importance of Moira in the novel? Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale (1986).

    She appears to be a complete contrast to Offred as she is bold and out-going, her language is vulgar and brash. Furthermore, the fact that she is allowed to be gay in society shows how much more freedom there was in a pre-Gilead culture. Moira is a clear role model for the handmaids, especially Offred. She displays exceptional courage and determination throughout her time at the Red Centre: 'You can't let her go slipping over the edge. That stuff is catching' When Janine shows weakness in the Red Centre, Moira takes it upon herself to help her and make sure the Aunts don't find her like it.

    • Word count: 849
  7. What is the importance of Moira in the novel? Consider the ways in which the writer presents this character.

    We are first introduced to the character of Moira in chapter 7, as a trendy college student who wears purple overalls and 'one dangly earring' leaving her paper on 'Date r**e' to go for a beer. Margaret Atwood presents Moira as quite a spunky character, through the short, punchy sentences. The passage is also representative of the time before with its speech being different from that in the rest of the book, for example 'Now, it's only me. You don't need to paint your face.'

    • Word count: 1356
  8. Discuss the variety of narrative techniques used in 'The Handmaid's Tale.'

    The technique of constantly drawing attention to the way fiction is created is called Metanarrative Technique. The emphasis throughout is on process and reconstruction, where 'truth' is only a matter of the teller's perspective, by showing how stories, truth, even history can be revised, for example, Offred thinks about killing the commander when he asks to kiss her, but she didn't really.

    • Word count: 586
  9. The Handmaid's Tale: Rebellion is Freedom

    Women in the Gilead were set up in a caste system of Wives, Aunts, Handmaids, Marthas, and the Unwomen. Offred's life as a handmaid had many restrictions, more than those of a wife or aunt. Offred was not allowed to go shopping alone, go anywhere alone in fact, hold a conversation with other people, especially other men, or do anything that was against the Gilead's view of the perfect society. "There is no such thing as a sterile man anymore, not officially. There are only women who are fruitful and women who are barren, that's the law."(61) Right now she couldn't even take a shower by herself.

    • Word count: 1954
  10. 'Discuss The Variety Of Narrative Techniques Used In The Handmaid's Tale'

    We approach Offred's narrative through Atwood's own comments as a writer, 'I'm an artist...and in any monolithic regime I would be shot'. This statement demonstrates that Offred is the teller of this novel. This novel is based on the idea of reconstruction, where 'truth' is the objective of Offred. Her narrative is a discontinuous one, which includes the time shifts, where we can identify the short scenes, which are used and its unfinished ending, 'And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light'.

    • Word count: 1408
  11. The handmaid's tale: chapter 2 commentary

    The narrator focuses on what she `can' do rather then what she can not do. "I can sit in the chair" This is ironic because although she is focusing on what she is able to do, yet she is reinforcing how limited the things she can do are. "Air can come in and make the curtains move" The sense of freedom is shown through the movement of the curtains and the flow of the air; these objects have a sense of movement whereas her thoughts don't because she can not escape through the "partly open window".

    • Word count: 1496
  12. Discuss the Narrative Structure of The Handmaid's Tale

    At this stage, Offred does not explain how or why she and the others are where they are. Her senses tell her things which go beyond immediate perception, however, and she smells, as an "afterimage" (an interpretive frame used constantly through the novel), the (pre-Gileadean) gymnasium with its sweaty smells, evocations of dances, desire, longing, relations between men and women: "There was old s*x in the room and loneliness and expectation, of something without a shape or name. I remember that yearning, for something that was always about to happen and was never the same as the hands that were

    • Word count: 921
  13. 'The Handmaid's Tale' - Based on your reading of the text so far, what do you find interesting about the way Atwood presents the character of Offred?

    At this stage of the book the reader doesn't understand who the 'aunts' are. It is clear that they have some sort of authority over this group of girls, similar to the authority of a prison warden over prisoners. The narration doesn't bother to try and explain the things that the audience are being introduced to, instead, it seems that the voice addressing the reader is not telling a story but simply reminding themselves of a moment in their past. Offred is very conscious of the changes that have taken place since our time and she doesn't need to explain them to herself, just remember them.

    • Word count: 3999
  14. In many ways the ideas in this dystopian novel are more important than the characters - with the exception of Offred and Moira. The other characters tend to function as members of groups or as representatives of certain ideological positions.

    She knows what she needs to pay attention to: What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth ... Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be' (Chapter 24). Offred's greatest psychological resource is her faculty of double vision, for she is a survivor from the past, and it is her power to remember which enables her to survive in the present. It is not only through flashbacks that she reconstructs the past (though these are her most effective escape routes from isolation, loneliness and boredom), but even when she walks down the road she sees everything through a double exposure, with the past superimposed upon the present,

    • Word count: 5607
  15. Illustrate the Significance of the 'Night' sections in the 'Handmaid's Tale'

    The Night sections are extremely significant in the novel, not for just explaining Offreds past and current situations, they also show how oppressive the society in Gilead must be. For Offred to feel too on edge to remember her memories in the day time or when she and Offglen do daily walks to collect groceries, shows that Offreds mind is constantly buzzing with a fear of some sort or other of the current society. When Offred became a handmaid, she was stripped of her identity and everything that made her who she was, so for her only choosing to remember

    • Word count: 991
  16. How appropriate is the ending to "The Handmaid's Tale"?

    When he calls Offred by her "real name" during her removal, this hints that Nick is in fact helping her to escape, and not sending her to her death, as through out the book, she has used her real name as her code for survival, and as a way of clinging on to the past. Nick's character can also be linked to that of the commander, who is perhaps one of the most ambiguous characters of the whole book. This linking of these two can also help the reader to recognise the doubles theme, which permeates the whole text.

    • Word count: 693
  17. Is The Handmaid's Tale an optimistic or pessimistic novel?

    After Offred leaves with the aid of Nick, we do not discover if she manages to escape. Atwood leaves the continued existence as an unanswered question for the reader. As the reader, one would hope that Offred survives and was able to escape, and the historical notes keep her alive. Although the historical notes provide a continued existence for Offred, they still contain s****t, misogynistic views. Professor Piexioto condemns Offred and dismisses her story, claiming it is unreliable. Piexioto is more interested in establishing the history of Gilead from a purely political aspect and rejects Offred's emotional feminine approach and claims; "Our job is not to censure but to understand."

    • Word count: 951
  18. Offred's story was found by Professor's Wade and Pieixoto on the site of what was once the city of Bangor, in what would have been the State of Maine, which was a prominent way-station on what Offred refers to as "The Underground Femaleroad".

    Like most children of her age at the time, she thought that any history before her own was untrue, and found especially terrifying the way the Jews were killed in ovens, believing them to be in a kitchen and therefore eaten. Offred's mother did not believe in 'mystification' and had, according to the text, given her a pop-up book of s****l organs when she was four. She also took her to a park once where she and her friends were burning men's magazines.

    • Word count: 1796
  19. Examine the Significance of the Relationship between Offred and Moira, for the Handmaids Tale as a whole

    Whenever times in Offred's life get tough, she seeks comfort from the thought of Moira and guidance by her example. Moira's confidence and rebellion are evident throughout her whole life, both in small ways in college, and then later in much larger ways in Gilead society, "Water bombs, they were called. Leaning out of my dorm window, dropping them on the heads of boys below. It was Moira's idea." This small example of their behaviour in college, and the fact that it is a lasting memory for Offred, shows what a significant impression Moira has on Offred's whole life.

    • Word count: 1645
  20. The Real Female Power: s*x - Does it Really Exist?

    I would say that women do not even hold the power of s*x above men. Granted, the male s****l urge is stronger and more frequent than that of women, but women too have a desire to be touched and a desire for s*x. Men cannot "rise to the occasion" on command; rather they must be "into the situation". Women would be unable to exercise this power over men, women's desires and the physical strength that men possess counteract the measures women may take to dominate men. The initial dilemma women face is how to employ their s****l power over men.

    • Word count: 647
  21. Diction and storytelling in Death by Landscape by Margaret Atwood

    A friend who in Lois? mind completely vanished off the face of the earth; her body was never recovered. A young Lois recalled, ?Lucy did not care about things she did not know, whereas Lois did?, from this it can assumed that Lois is a character of strong need for closure and she never got it. In her mind there was no way Lucy could just disappear like this, she had to be somewhere. With this mindset taken into her adulthood an older Lois had rebirthed Lucy through these landscape paintings symbolic of her death.

    • Word count: 907
  22. Comparing and contrasting two characters from The Handmaids Tale. Moira and Janine: Two Sides of the Same Coin

    I will outline both characters? personalities, their subjugation to Gilead and the loss of connection with their own bodies. Moira is a rebellious lesbian who is admired by the Handmaids, but as the story unfolds, she subdues to Gilead. Moira?s boisterous behavior is displayed by her actions and speech, which is highly colloquial, as when she states, ?I?m borrowing five bucks off you, okay?? (Atwood, THT, p.32) and when she refers to the Red Center[1] as a ?Loony Bin? (THT, p.61).

    • Word count: 1018

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