“The true measure of a texts value lies in its ability to provoke the reader into awareness of its language and construction, not just its content”.
The value of the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, lies not only within the author’s purpose but within its construction and the author’s ability to draw readers attention to these concepts through language. Atwood has carefully and decisively used language and structure throughout the novel to enhance our understanding of the purpose and message she is trying to portray. Atwood aims to caution us about the elements in our world that can give rise to a dystopic society and the dangers of oppression, particularly of women. Atwood challenges her audience to reflect on and consider their own societies and the ways in which people are controlled and oppressed. Her central ideas of feminism, dystopic societies and repression are reinforced through her use of historical and biblical references, non-linear structure and the intimate first person narration given by Offred. These features of language and construction aid us as readers to comprehend her purpose of the novel.
The Handmaid’s Tale aims to caution and warn us about the dangers of oppression and the dystopic societies it can lead to. Atwood has successfully depicted Gilead as a dystopia through the visible struggle and hardships her characters undergo in the totalitarian and theocratic state of Gilead, yet Atwood is able to enhance this concept of a dystopia by using a non-linear structure. Atwood uses flashbacks to contrast Gilead to its past, in this way Atwood utilises the flashbacks as binaries which portray the past as a utopic society suggesting that present day Gilead is a dystopia. “Luke and I used to walk together, sometimes, along these streets. We used to talk about buying a house…we would have a garden…we would have children…Such freedom now seems almost weightless.” As Offred recounts another memory of her past we begin to sense the utopic...
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