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An Analysis of the Use of Shock in Atwood's Novel The Handmaid's Tale to Make Readers Recognize the Dangers of Contemporary World
Word Count: 2,739
Atwood says Gilead is a logical extension of current trends There is nothing in the text that hasnt happened already How does the novel work to shock readers into a recognition of the dangers of our contemporary world 2637 words with quotes Shock in The Handmaids Tale is used to keep the reader from being complacent with the text to avoid the comfort that reading a good story allows and is also used to heighten the message There is the shock of abnormality and the alien nature of the society especially when juxtaposed against Offreds reminiscences of the life we can recognise There is the shock of brutality in the descriptions of the Wall the Ceremony and Particution which are heightened by Offreds detached narrative style and this shock of her complicity in what is happening if shown simply through her silence is itself highlighted by Moira and Ofglens bravado Finally there is the shock of possibility To read a fantasy so grounded in reality is to read a possible future which makes us question the circumstances of the present and when the future posited is a dystopian we one are challenged to change the present so that this future becomes impossible The structure of the book is such that it maximises the disparity between modern life and Gilead If it were told in a linear manner we would accept the culture and stop seeing it as related to our everyday lives It is through Offreds memories of a world we can recognise that we remain appalled by the events described for us While shopping she remembers a sign from before Gilead In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash That would be blasphemy now While undressing she compares her current modest clothing with the past my nakedness is strange to me already Did I really wear bathing suits at beach Her longing for her daughter is made particularly painful by the fact
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