Bonnie Lyons Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:26:25
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The critic, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, considers The Handmaids Tale to be far more than a political tract deploring nuclear energy, environmental waste and antifeminist attitudes. Which features of Atwoods novel do you believe have contributed to its readability and secured its reputation as a piece of classic modern fiction?

In the novel, The Handmaids Tale, it is my opinion that the principal aspect of Atwoods writing style is the depth and intensity with which she approaches her subject matter; she consistently shows that she has researched her material and is able to show relatively potential alternate futures at the time of the early 80s it is not inconceivable to imagine certain turns of events happening as they did in the narrative. In the 1980s, the political climate globally seemed to be turning toward economic restraint and conservatism.

In general, this shift was a response to the liberalism and unchecked social spending that occurred in the 1970s, which were in turn the extended results of the freedoms won by the worldwide social revolutions of the 1960s. This conservative trend appeared in different forms in different countries. In Margaret Atwoods home country of Canada, Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal Party leader resigned in 1984, and the voters replaced him with Progressive Conservative Brian Mulroney. Margaret Thatcher, who was elected Prime Minister of England in 1979, reversed decades of socialism by selling government-run industries to private owners.

In the United States, the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan created such a turbulent reversal of previous social policy that the changes sweeping through the government during the first half of the decade came to be referred to as the Reagan Revolution. The extreme shift toward conservatism in the United States at that time is significant to the social change that created the Republic of Gilead in Atwoods imagination. After the novel was published, she told an American interviewer that she had tried originally to set the novel in Canada, but that it just would not fit the Canadian culture.

Its not a Canadian sort of thing to do, she told Bonnie Lyons in 1987. Canadians might do it after the United States did it, in some sort of watered-down version. Our television evangelists are paltrier than yours. The States are more extreme in everything. The Republic of Gilead is characterised as a dystopia; a dystopia is any society considered to be undesirable, for any of a number of reasons. The term was coined as a converse to a utopia, and is most usually used to refer to a fictional society where current social trends are taken to nightmarish extremes.

One of The Handmaids Tales successful aspects concerns the skilful portrayal of a state that in theory claims to be founded on Christian principles, yet in practice miserably lacks spirituality and benevolence. The state in Gilead prescribes a pattern of life based on abstinence, conformity, censorship, corruption, fear, and terror-in short, the usual terms of existence enforced by totalitarian states, instance of which can be found in such dystopian works as Orwells 1984.

The novels thematics operate by speculating upon conflicting extremes: a decadent present, which Aunt Lydia cynically describes as a society dying ¦of too much choice, and a totalitarian future that prohibits choice. Naturally, while rejecting the indulgent decadence and chaos of an anarchic society, the reader condemns the Gilead regime for its intolerant, prescriptive set of values that projects a tunnel vision on reality and eliminates human free will. There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Dont underrate it.

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