Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a modern dystopian fantasy which tells the story of an ordinary women who becomes subject to the ultra religious beliefs of the Republic of Gilead, a state in which the law of the bible rules. The novel is both modern and classic; drawing influence from many past works of literature such as the bible, but still manages to show a strong significance with modern political attitudes.
From the very first chapter the reader is thrust into Offred’s mind, and the narrative follows a stream of consciousness thus enabling Atwood to include all of the characters thoughts and feelings, even those which seem at a tangent to the main storyline. ‘There was old sex in the room and loneliness, and expectation’ this abstract narrative style is one of the distinguishing features of the book and also works as a useful tool, as it enables Atwood to describe things from Offred’s perspective as a pose to common novels which use description from the authors point of view. ‘I remember that yearning, for something that was always about to happen and was never the same’ another advantage to this narrative approach is that the book seems more human, like an old fashioned storyteller as a pose to simply mechanical description which draws similarities with old bible stories which were told by people all over the world. It creates an empathy and understanding between the reader and the main character which makes every tragedy more poignant and every success more uplifting.
The first chapter also instantly addresses the horrifying nature of the Republic of Gilead, with mention of ‘guns… specially picked from the Angels.’ The use of guns in the first chapter is a clever trick by Atwood as guns conjure up many connotations and violent imagery. This dramatically contrasts with the imagery generally associated with angels, which manages to bring a dark tone to the novel from the outset as readers perceptions are turned on their heads. This use of...
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