Annotated Bibliography” Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”: Scheherazade In Dystopia.: Ebscohost .” Eds.a.ebscohost.com.
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13 Jan. 2018. In this criticism, Stein focuses on the storytelling aspect of the novel. The power of language in a society where all language is controlled and taught to be used passively is a source of rebellion for our narrator. With the inability to expression emotion, the totalitarian state can easily create docile females. Through words, Offred is able to create an escape for herself, however, even she questions the possibility of recreating her experience, the limits of narration, memory, and language itself. The act of storytelling becomes paradoxical, the plot controlled by the author but the meaning up to the reader’s interpretation.
Stein presents the questions: “Is storytelling enough? Can women gain power through language alone?” and proceeds to comment on how in the end Offred’s story still ends up being interpreted by someone else in the future. This criticism is extremely useful in its analyzation of language. The storyteller and the story become separate existences, both of which will be analyzed differently.
I agree with Stein’s breakdown of the purpose of the text, the complex issues that it aims at addressing and how such topics are especially relevant right now in the United States. Narration in this novel is much more complex when looking at the multiple times Offred puts the power of her words in the hands of the reader, which makes the last line particularly ironic: “Are there any questions?” In these last few pages a woman’s narrative in society was still subjected to the interpretation of a male authority figure, a master of language no less, causing the novel to reach beyond the end of Offred’s story and address the serious issues of religion, feminism, and narrative theory. ” ‘We Lived In The Blank White Spaces’: Rewriting The Paradigm Of Denial In A…: Ebscohost .” Eds.a.
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Web. 14 Jan. 2018. In this criticism, Dodson focuses on how the novel is written much like historical accounts from black slave women. America, being the paradoxical epitome of a utopia/dystopia, was built on the Puritan belief of God’s perfect kingdom and then constructed through methods of silencing individuals against their religious or political beliefs, especially women and minorities. Throughout the novel, Offred’s rebellious spirit is sedated by the offers of the Commander of books to play Scrabble, read fashion magazines, and use black market lotion, which leads to her participation in a brothel.
Dodson ties the Commander to a slaveholder bribing a black women in preparation of placing them in a role of a prostitute as to feel absolved with his actions. However, even Offred sees the differences in the various levels of women’s oppression in her new position as a handmaid. Dodson interprets Atwood’s intent as a parody of Puritanism and the persistent denial of truth in modern American culture. This criticism is extremely interesting in its comparison to American history. I realized that our narrator is a once-privileged woman whose past revealed how she never really noticed the struggles of American women less fortunate due to income or color, not even with her activist friend, Moira. Examples of such passiveness can be seen in the beginning of the feminist movement, when white women called for equality while ignoring their African American counterparts, or even now, with people who trivialize the horrors of rape.
This future of America mirrors the hideousness of its past, and Offred’s character development stems from the initial apathy to the true concept of freedom. In the end, however, Offred takes pride in her power over her story and how her little rebellious acts have distanced her and the regime that supposedly controls her.