Handmaids Tale Notes

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Question 1: Written language is not neutral. Explore this idea making reference to your experience of written language.

Written language can only be neutral if it has a non biased with preconceived values/beliefs, and the author or the narrator must not favour any side of the conflicts at hand. Written text is Not Neutral- supported by “The Handmaid’s Tale” written by Margaret Atwood (Main Points)- Play on words, Point of View, Neologism/Connotations of words, Intertextual links, Epigraphs, Historical notes, Context all support this

Point of view:
story is told through Offred’s eyes- we only see situations the way she interprets them- her perspective her feelings and thoughts- we are not shown anyone else’s P.O.V- e.g we don’t know how the commander feels about being forced to be in the relationship’s with the handmaids- we don’t know anyone’s thoughts on situations- only what they say Just because Offred’s life was perfect before doesn’t mean everyone’s was- new life could be better for some people e.g the aunts. Offred is viewed as a biased protagonist

“it isn’t a story I’m telling, It’s also a story I’m telling, in my head, as i go along. Tell, rather then write, because i have nothing to write with and writing in any case if forbidden” - Pg 49

Play on words:
e.g “pen is envy”- penis envy- (thought to herself in commander’s study)- she wishes she had the same power and rights as men(his freedom/chance to/for knowledge)

e.g red sounds similar to read- ironic because the handmaids are not allowed to read and have to wear red.

e.g May/June- May Day, Offred’s real name is june- link to months- maybe linking Offred to the rebellion- she was maybe alway meant to be apart of it.

e.g Salvaging: if a male in power e.g a doctor rapes a women they are executed by literally being torn to pieces- salvage sounds very similar to savage- what the handmaids tale is (new society)- to they by acting in a savage manner (executions) they are salvaging the rest of society- not right- focusing on community instead of individuals.

Neologism/Connotations of words:
(Neologism means the creation of new words) examples from handmaids tale below: e.g Prayvoganza: A public gathering- mass ceremony- split separately in men and women- female versions are usually weddings for wives’ daughters (can be as young as fourteen). male versions celebrate military. e.g Particicution: people who are singled out for ‘Particucution’ are labeled as rapists by Gilead, despite the fact that they are generally politically prisoners.- Wrongly accused by gov. to make them look worse then that are, and make the gov. look strong. - part-ication: Part- only some have the right to speak and have power or part: only part of the truth is told e.g Unwomen and Unbaby- these term in HMT takes away sense of humanity through language. Unwomen- sent away- not wanted- useless for society growth. Unbaby- cant help/add to society. (ironic because this new society is all about salvaging life- seen through the handmaids job) e.g (connotation) no one has names “Wives”, “commanders”, “Angels”, “Handmaids” etc. which is de-humanizing. e.g Offred: Of-Fred- the handmaids are forced to take their commanders first name- they are now a part OF them- lose all sense of self identity and personallity. Also showing the bond created in the relationship- as a wife takes the last name of their husband becoming a part of him- now in new society handmaids are also becoming a part of wives husbands.

Intertextual links:
“Weekend”- by Fay Weldon- like handmaids tale explores feminism, oppression of women, mechanical and emotionless sex, ‘Martha’ appears and is used in the same context in both texts.

Epigraphs:
Rachel is barren- cant “bare” children for Jacob- uses maid (Bilhah) as a surrogate mother- basically outlines the whole storyline (Offred’s view) of HMT- plot and Gileadean life of a Handmaid (Offred) satirical, sarcastic. Modest Proposal- Ireland famine-...
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