Presentation on theme: "The Handmaid's Tale Imogen, Victoria, Milena, Ciara."— Presentation transcript:
The Handmaid's Tale Imogen, Victoria, Milena, Ciara
Background Information Author: Margaret Atwood Year of Publication: 1985 Genre: Feminist, Dystopia
Background Cont. Setting & Time Period: Mid-70’s-80’s, Republic of Gilead (USA), Cambridge, Massachusetts Protagonist: Offred Antagonist: Gilead society and its affiliates such as the Eyes, the Aunts
Characteristics of Gilead The Handmaid's Names Red Center The Ceremony Prayvaganza (Angels) Salvaging Particicution Wall (Harvard)
Relationships Offred's friendship with Moira Offred's past marriage with Luke Offred's relationship with the Commander Offred's forbidden relationship with Nick
Key Traits: Offred- submissive (self-preservative), shaped by society, previously a loving mother/wife, genuine though surrounded by illusion Serena Joy- desperate to preserve dignity, infertile, bitter Commander- no defining characteristics (societal parody), lonely (perversion of gender stereotypes) Luke - Offred's former husband (his second marriage; Offred was his mistress), comforting force during height of transition Nick - cares about Offred, although it is unclear how much she reciprocates his feelings, underground subversive Moira- foil to Offred, starts out as revolutionary, then becomes complacent (justifies complacency)
Major Conflicts Loss of identity, individuality Male dominance, patriarchy Love vs. sex (Offred searches for emotional connections in her relationships) Survival Search for happiness/contentment in Gilead
Key Scenes Moira's escape from the Red Center Offred's evenings with the Commander When Ofglen reveals she is a member of the resistance Offred seeing the picture of her daughter Visiting Jezebel’s and seeing Moira The first time Offred sleeps with Nick "Particicution" Climax- Serena confronts Offred about Jezebels
Key Quotations “I would like to believe this is a story I’m telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance. If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off” (39). (Offred's thoughts) “Nolite te bastardes carborundum” (52). Do not let the bastards grind you down. (Carved by the previous Handmaid)
Key Quotations Cont. "Are they old enough to remember anything of the time before, playing baseball, in jeans and sneakers, riding their bicycles? Reading books, all by themselves... Even though some of them are no more than fourteen... still they'll remember. And the ones after them will, for three or four or five years; but after that they won't. They'll always have been in white, in groups of girls; they'll always have been silent" (219). (At the Prayvaganza) “I wish this story were different. I wish it were more civilized. I wish it showed me in a better light, if not happier, then at least more active, less hesitant, less distracted by trivia... I wish it were about love...” (267). (After Nick and Offred sleep together)
Themes of Interest Desire/companionship Rigid social order Complacency Subjugation of women Cyclic nature of history Power dynamic (give a little to get a lot)
Theme Statement When an intelligent, once-free former wife and mother with a strong sense of female identity comes in conflict with an oppressive, patriarchal society in a situation in which she is forced to act as a sexual subjugate, she experiences a loss of identity and emotional detachment as a method of self-preservation. Her account is discovered centuries later when American society has reverted back to a democratic state, suggesting that the nature of human history is cyclic, alternating between periods of extreme oppression and autonomy. Subsequently, attempts to study history's past mistakes in order to prevent them in the future are rendered futile.
Author Style & Structure Point of view: First person reflective Characteristics of the Narrator: The narrator is telling a story, which often affects the way she presents the description of the events. Her fear effects the story-telling (it is a risk that could cost her her life). Characterization: Mostly indirect with occasional subtle direct characterization. The narrator rarely states her own opinions and makes small observations about the physical properties of her world.
Author Style & Structure Cont. Drawing conclusions Alternates between narrator drawing conclusions for the reader and the reader having to draw his/her own conclusions. Characters' backgrounds are unclear. Where did they come from? How did they become who they are now? When Offred escapes at the end of the novel with the mysterious men she only has Nick's word that they are trustworthy. However, in the historical notes chapter, Offred's story is clarified and more conclusions are drawn for the reader. Syntax: Mix of long and short sentences. Atwood has a tendency to repeat sentence structure. Active voice. Use of metaphors. Sentence Structure: Simple in diction and varied in syntax. Sometimes very casual and diary like sentences, other times very specific and complex sentence structure. Prose Style: Efficient prose. Pensive/reflective. Social commentary. Atwood uses repetition to emphasize certain points. For example, "I wish..."
Author Style & Structure Cont. Does the narrative feel drawn out or underdeveloped? A bit drawn out for most of the novel but it is rushed at the end. Diction: Mostly simple. Mood: Dark, foreboding, claustrophobic, pessimistic, hopeless, nostalgic at times
Author Style & Structure Cont. Does the narration seem reliable? Told from the POV of an oppressed Handmaid in a patriarchal society; it would be different if told from POV of a man/Unwoman/wife. Also, Offred's documentation of her experience is dangerous. Unreliable because of first person narration bias. She will tell different variations of how one thing happened. For example, Offred had three different descriptions about the first time she slept with Nick and three different ideas about what happened to Luke.
Author Style & Structure Cont. What is the structure of the narrative? The main plot is chronological, but the story is punctuated by flashbacks. What impact does the structure have upon the reader’s experience? Flashbacks gradually reveal information about Offred's past life and experience at the Red Center. This technique draws out the plot and keeps the reader curious.
What Makes The Handmaid's Tale Revolutionary Set in modern times (not futuristic) In the middle of a transitional period (characters can remember time before) "Full circle"
Symbolism Colors (red, white, blue) Flowers, garden Religious (Angels, Prayvaganza, Salvaging) Harvard (ironic use of academic setting)
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