The Handmaids tale Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:24:05
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The Historical Notes section is Atwoods epilogue to The Handmaids Tale. Although confusing at first, one quickly notices that this section illuminates many issues in the text. The reader is told that, for the purposes of Atwoods novel, the era of Gilead, and therefore Offreds story, is historical fact. This makes the protagonists story, in a sense, more real to the responder. This complements the deeply personal nature of Offreds work, and allows the reader to empathise with her. Pieixoto is insensitive to the plight of Offred and trivialises many complex themes.

The reader is then forced to confront these matters more rigorously and is thus brought to a clearer understanding of the characterisation. Atwood also utilises the last section of the text to include a formal history of Gilead, which contrasts sharply Offreds personal history. Pieixotos discourse often mocks the Handmaids poor reporting, whereas Offred tells the same story in more personal terms. Therefore, the novels epilogue supplements the main text; it is not inconsistent with it. Margaret Atwood suddenly changes the focus of her writing at the end of the novel.

The climax built up in section fifteen turns abruptly into the parody of a scholarly symposium. One is told that Gilead is now the subject of historical study; Atwood has ingeniously caused the responder to think of the symposium as the actual story of the text, and to conceive of Offreds story as more legitimate. By removing the Handmaid from the spotlight, it is possible to more closely identify with her. Pieixoto is concerned only with the problem of verification of authenticity. He complains that there is no name appended to Offreds story, and thus cautions his audience to regard the story less seriously.

He grumbles, Offred gives no clue [to finding the identity of the Handmaid], since, like Ofglen and Ofwarren, it was a patronymic, composed of the possessive preposition and the first name of the gentleman in question. Such names were taken¦ and relinquished1 but he does not understand why it is not possible for Offred to include her original name. In the main text, it is frequently stressed that Gilead is a nation which suppresses all individuality, and it is against the ideology to have a name. One can observe firstly that all physical uniqueness of the Handmaids is removed by the use of uniform.

Offred remarks that she sees herself surrounded by a sea of red, A Sister dipped in blood. 2 This is imagery of a nunnery, where all physical uniqueness is disposed of by the habit, in The Handmaids Tale, of red colour. Secondly, emotional distinctiveness is also disallowed; the Handmaids do not have feelings and opinions. The Red Centre is so successful in distorting its Handmaids views that Offred marvels, It has taken so little time to change our minds, about things like this. 3 This dehumanisation of society makes the concept of a name as a tag to identity unthinkable.

Pieixoto does not observe that however much Gilead is efficient in its oppression of its population, it cannot obliterate Offreds will to exist independently of mindless orthodoxy. Gilead is within you4, the protagonist is often told. She recognises that she does not have the liberty to retain her original name, but she does so nonetheless. Her name isnt Offred, I have another name,¦ I tell myself it doesnt matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter¦ I think of this name as buried.

This name has an aura around it, like an amulet, some charm thats survived from an unimaginably distant past¦ the name floats there behind my eyes, not quite within reach, shining in the dark. 5 This refusal to conform to Gileads practices is itself a recognition of Offreds individuality. Despite her submission into various demeaning physical acts such as the Ceremony, her thought still betrays her unorthodoxy. After Professor Pieixotos refusal, or perhaps inability, to acknowledge Offreds identity without a proper name, the reader is forced to contemplate more of these issues, and is brought to a clearer understanding of them.

Pieixotos indifference to these matters only makes Offreds vivid portrait of life in Gileadean society more evocative, especially on the issue of identity.  Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Margaret Atwood section.

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