Margaret Atwoods Significance in writing the Handm Essay

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Margaret Atwoods Significance in writing the Handmaids Tale



In 1969 Margaret Atwood first addressed the world with her pro-feminist ideas. As a direct
result from encouragement and influence from literary mentors like Atwood, feminism became
the rage. As the interest in women's rights heightened, so did the tolerance and need for
more strongly biased and feminist sided articles of literature. In 1985, Margaret Atwood
completed The Handmaid's Tale, and fueled the fight for equal rights, no glass ceilings,
and occupational opportunities for women all over the world.

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1939, and grew up in suburban Toronto where
she was raised by her father who was a forest entomologist. Atwood began writing in high
school where she discovered her love and even knack for mythological irony. She was
influenced early on by the critic Northrop Frye who introduced her to the poetry of
William Blake during her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto (Draper 1995).

Soon after graduating from the University of Toronto, Atwood completed and published her
first book of poetry, Double Persephone. Eight years later, Atwood began writing novels,
and in 1969 she introduced herself to the world with her first novel, The Edible Woman
(Draper 1995).

Atwood's employment venue was not one that consisted primarily of writing. Throughout this
time period, Atwood taught English at the University of British Colombia, Victorian and
American Literature at Sir George William's University and creative writing at the
University of Alberta (Draper 1985).

In 1969 Atwood was the first female recipient of the Governor General's award, the highest
ranking Canadian award for literature. Upon receiving this award, Atwood became a victim
of the press and had to relocate. Her and her husband, Graham Gibson moved to a farm to
escape the media (Draper 1985).

It was during this time period that it became apparent that Atwood's shear purpose in
writing was both to "entertain and dramatize the current plight of women (Moss 1997). This
characteristic of Atwood's writing norm became especially clear in her 1985's The
Handmaid's Tale.

About Margaret Atwood, Sharon Hall says that upon maturing Atwood became more concerned
with displaying her natural abilities and her responsibilities as a literary artist. In
the beginning Atwood retained much of her talent, never holding back opinion but reducing
her work by usage euphemisms. By the time Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale she had
disposed of her concern for niceties which gave this 1985 science fiction its edge (Hall
1987).

The Handmaid's Tale is said to be about oppression and Hall supports this theme
completely. Atwood's continuance with pro-women's rights and effects of oppression against
women is what truly makes this a Margaret Atwood novel (Hall 1987).

Hall compares The Handmaid's Tale to Jane Eyre. She says that the connection between the
two is inevitably obvious and very physically visual. Atwood uses melodrama to enrich the
protagonist of the handmaid and Hall says that the vision of the long hair and flowing
night gown idle at the top of the long and winding staircase are all features that
resemble Jane Eyre (Hall 1987).

Atwood uses many literary devices to express both herself and the handmaid throughout The
Handmaid's Tale. One of these is her usage of language and diction. Atwood uses language
as a foothold for the protagonist to keep her grounded. In Atwood's other novels language
is seen as a barrier and Hall feels that this paradox could be an "impediment to her
gifts" (Hall 1987).

Despite this prior commentary, Hall feels that The Handmaid's Tale ranks with Orwell's
1984. It is a post catastrophe story with a well thought, planned, and executed plot that
views the future in a manor that makes her imaginary account disturbingly believable (Hall
1987).

Paul Brians, examined the story line and believes that The Handmaid's Tale is a futuristic
insight as to what the outcome of continual environmental problems would be (Brians 1996).
Continues for 4 more pages >>




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