Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Essay

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Essay

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Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

The Historical Notes are important in the way we perceive the novel as
they answer many important questions raised by the novel and also
enhance some of the novels main themes.

The first question it answers is the one raised at the end of the
novel; that is whether Offred is stepping up into the,'darkness,' or
the, 'light.' The reader finds out that Offred escaped Gilead,
presumably into Canada, with the help of the,'Underground Femaleroad.'
The reader also learns that it was Nick who orchestrated her escape,
using his position as a member of the Eyes. This is important to the
novel as it means that the novel can feasibly be a transcript of her
story, a story she could not have told if she was dead. It is also
important in a much more simple sense, that it satisfies the readers
curiosity over what happens to the main character and brings the novel
to a more satisfactory close. Over the course of the novel the reader
has built up a close relationship with Offred through her telling her
story completely in the first person. This has the effect of making
the reader feel a close connection with Offred, and care what happens
to her.

The Historical Notes also place the novel in its historical context.
The notes tell the reader the story of why Gilead implemented the
Handmaids in the first place, with the widespread reproduction
problems caused by the,' AIDS epidemic,' and leakages from, 'chemical
warfare stocks.' This is important to the novel as a whole as it
outlines the reasons Gilead has for implementing the Handmaids and
shows that there was an actual reason behind the methods of Gilead.
This has the effect of making the society seem more realistic, which

... middle of paper ...

... The fact that Piexto criticizes Offred for
her account, 'she does not see fit to supply us with her original
name,' demonstrates his misunderstanding of the account, that Piexto
sees it purely in the context of what he can learn from it about
Gilead, and does not seem to care for Offred's, 'whiff of emotion,' or
what Offred seems to have suffered through. The fact that Piexto's
lecture is based on ,' Problems of Authentication,' again shows a
complete disregard for what Offred went through, and again
demonstrates his misunderstanding of the entire Tale. Atwood uses
Piexto's misunderstanding to again make a warning to society; again
that what happens in the novel could happen again. This could again be
a comment on society and university education by Atwood; that everyone
is so concerned with facts, figures and dates, they often forget, 'the
human heart.'

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