The Handmaid's Tale: Offred Chapters 1 to 4

The Handmaid's Tale: Offred Chapters 1 to 4

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The story starts with a woman reflecting on her past (Offred), she has been living in an army-based camp with other girls. She starts with describing the history of the room where she is now based, talking (in detail) about old surroundings which have now gone to pass. She describes the changing of room quite distinctively; a quote to support this could be `old sex in the room and loneliness, and expectation, of something without a shape or name.' This suggests that any cheerful moment in this room has been a really long time ago, or that's what it seems.

At this point there seems to be one main character (setting the scene, and the past scene as this is important to the story) but she mentions others as well, which will be involved later on, the first chapter seems to represent the foundation to what is going to happen later on.

The setting remains the same throughout this chapter but the scenery changes quite dramatically. From varnished wood and stripes and painted circles the scenery transforms into army cots and army issue blankets. This seems to cry out a lot of powerful emotion to the reader as the army image continues to come up, keeping a clear focus on what main be one of the main issues of the story.

The language used portrays the characters thoughts and emotions for example she goes into great detail about her surroundings (her life) and the events which had taken place there .She talks about her environment as if she is closely connected with the associations to which she describes.

Regarding the connection between the aunts and angels, the woman talks about them being her family, and at first you see them as guardians but straight afterwards they are portrayed as prison guards with harmful weapons. This irony plays a strong part in who is meant to play the good guys and who the bad.

The intimacy in the last paragraph of the chapter represents a unity holding on to each other bravely, as strength to survive what may happen to them. Atwood achieves this intimate effect by cleverly summarizing the chapter as a whole paragraph to emphasize love, intensity and courage for them to stay alive and not fade away like the gymnasium.

Chapter 2 opens with a commentary of images and improper sentences (but statements) possibly to clarify Offreds surroundings but also to emphasize important or unimportant images encircling around her.

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These images seem to be picked up arbitrarily, `A chair, a table, a lamp'. Her environment is her life, her world as she is imprisoned ` when the window is partly open it only opens partly' this is comprehensible as ofred implies that she cant get out of the window, also that it is her only view of the outside world.

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advantage of those household items as if they were the most special fixation that fills her life. Offred talks about everything as if it can be intimately significant; as her lust for sex grows throughout the novel and at this point Atwood is bringing in Offreds sexuality in regard to everyday life. `Sunlight comes in............falls on the floor' the sunlight itself to represent could signify passion as well as freedom and happiness. This contributes to the idea that because she is concealed from the world and posted there only there to breed that she has given up hope for independence and looks to other things to satisfy her want and need for something more than what she's got.' Nothing takes place in the bed but sleep; or no sleep.'

In this chapter colour is emphasized when Offred mentions cushions and composes a point in saying that they're white, `...same white cushions...'Offred says this as if she's bored and that there is no point in getting upset about it all but just accepting the fact that they're there, but there is a tone that would run through this line, it would be sarcasm as if she trying to make fun of herself as she looks into what her life has become and how she even finds looking at curtains funny. Another colour revealed in this chapter is blue, blue irises. This seems to represent nature, (blue sky, freedom). The flowers could act as a metaphor to say that she is trapped within this place yet beautiful life grows outside but not in her, but also that she is life but masked away, just as if she were a fetus, concealed away from the world, waiting for life to happen.

Chapter 3 setting is described so vividly by Offred, this is the chapter in which she goes outside, and the way in which Offred talks about it, its as if she's never been outside.' The tulips are red, a darker crimson towards the stem...' Each tiny detail is looked upon as important and all significant, like Offreds emerging presence has brought everything to life, a triumphant exit it seems, (from her point of view).

She talks about past and presence, describing the garden she used to have, which relates to her depression, as she no longer has it. The depth in which Offred goes into talks about her, in her past life and the way all those things she used to do are now more important as she cant do them now. ` I can remember the smell of the upturned earth, the plump shape of bulbs held in the hands...' this sentence talks not just about Offreds wants but also it underlines a main theme in the novel to do with the senses, here we have SMELL and TOUCH! Offred is reminiscing her past life and comparing it with the existence she has at the moment.

In this chapter we find out more regarding the commanders wife. Offred seems to analysis this woman as if she were a picture, singling out every aspect of her features and unfolding it in her head as she looks, scanning over Serena Joy as she does everything. Each part of her face is examined, but especially her eyebrows, `Her eyebrows were plucked into thing arched lines, which gave her a permanent look of surprise, or outrage, or inquisitiveness, such as you might see on a startled child, but below her eyelids were tired looking' I find this passage has an interesting meaning, for example, Offred is extremely uncertain about the way she decides something so insignificant such as the permanent look on her face was surprised etc. This suggests that Offreds mind is working as if it were a thesaurus or computer, finding the right word is of great importance.

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