The Handmaid's Tale Critics - AO5 Flashcards - Jack Baynes

Critics on The Handmaid’s Tale
-        A feminist dystopia -        Hailed for its “real and true” protest of inequality
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Carol Howell on Atwood’s aims
-        Atwood’s feminist concerns are evident, but so too are her concerns for basic human rights.
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1986 New York Times review of The Handmaid’s Tale
-        The novel does not have the intended effect of successfully protesting Atwood’s concerns.
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Rigney on Atwood’s aims
-        Atwood points out that the individual is truly a part of the whole and shares responsibility for every aspect of the system, including the perpetration of atrocity, No one is exempt from guilt, no one is blameless, Atwood implies, when it co
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Allan Weiss on Atwood
-        Atwood’s internalisation of a nationalist political paradigm produces a heroine whose sole resistance goes on inside her head, a resistance at once indistinguishable from passivity and masochism and uncomfortably synonyms with traditional st
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Hannah Arendt on ignoring in the regime
-        All who “ignore” are equally guilty of the results of that complacency.
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Carol Howell - Offred’s storytelling
-        Offred’s storytelling helps her to survive the psychological oppression of Gilead and she even manages to twist the masculine genre of dystopia into a feminine romance plot by falling in love, but her narrative ends poised on theedgeBlackVan
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Loflen on Gilead
-        Gilead forces the audience to play part of the executioner, and in doing so, represent the regime.
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Globe and Mail review
-        Atwood’s pessimism comes to the fore as she attempts to frighten us into an awareness of our destiny before it’s too late.
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J. Brooks Bouson on The Handmaid’s Tale
-        The Handmaid’s Tale anticipates the dramatisation of the female directed oppression of women. -        The brutal re-education of the Handmaids who are coerced by the Aunts to forego the ideology of women’s liberation andreverttothe“traditio
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Dan Geddes on The Handmaid’s Tale
Atwood’s novel depicts a not too futuristic society of Gilead.
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Michael Greene on the narrative
-        The lack of dialogue in the dystopian present of the novel is one way the book explores the suppression of women’s voices and the relationships between communication and community: the two greatest threats to Gilead’s order.
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Carol Ann Howells on Offred’s narrative voice Part 1
-        By an irony of history, it is Offred, the silenced Handmaid, who becomes Gilead’s principal historian when that oral “herstory” is published two hundred years later. -        Her storytelling has a double purpose, for not only is it her coun
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Carol Ann Howells on Offred’s narrative voice Part 2
ter-narrative to the social gospel of Gilead, but it is also her way of self rehabilitation against the “deadly brainwashing” of the totalitarian state. -        Offred survives in the present by continually slipping back into the past. -        It s
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Carol Ann Howells on Offred’s narrative voice Part 3
-        It soon becomes evident that Offred’s doubled narrative is more than a device for her private reorientation; it is one of the ways by which she defies Gileadean society,
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Madonne Miner on love
-        The novel subverts the subversive force of love and reveals love’s limitations.
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Mohr on love
-        The subversive potential of love is undercut. Repeatedly, Offred is paralysed by her love relationships.
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Atwood on Offred
-        An ordinary, more-or-less cowardly woman rather than a heroine.
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Joyce Johnson on Offred
-        Offred is utterly convincing. She is the voice of someone we might know, someone very close to us.
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Danita J. Dodson on Offred
-        Atwood superficially portrays the enslaved Handmaids as the helpless heroine who is abused by a gothic villain. -        Sees Offred as a participant of the regime.
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Jeanne Campbell on Offred’s voice
-        Offers a moving testament to the power of language to transform reality in order to overcome oppressive designs imposed on human beings.
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J. Brooks Bouson on Offred
-        The victim of circumstances, not an active agent capable of directing the plot of her own life.
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Erika Gottlieb on Offred’s freedom
-        It was easy for the fundamentalists to take away Offred’s freedoms because she never truly valued them, let alone sought to defend them.
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Sandra Tomic on Offred’s passivity
-        Atwood seems to be advocating what looks more like traditional femininity rather than an insurgent feminism.
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Carol Ann Howells on Offred’s body Part 1
-        Ironically, Offred’s only real hope centres on her own body, whose femaleness has been reinscribed by Gilead’s biological discourse and its oppressively Old Testament sexual practices. Though she has no power to reject her Handmaid’s role an
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Carol Ann Howells on Offred’s body Part 2
d stay alive, she does have the power to defy patriarchal prescriptions by aligning herself differently through her private narrative about her body.
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Mohr on Offred’s behaviour
-        It should not be so easily and self-righteously dismissed as cowardliness from the safe distance of being snuggled into an armchair.
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Lee Briscoe on Moira
-        Moira is Offred’s rebel alter ego.
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Carol Ann Howells on Moira and Offred’s mother
-        Offred resurrects these vanished women as she tells their stories of female heroism, imitating their own irrelevant idioms as she simultaneously celebrates and mourns them.
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Lucy Friebert on Nick
-        Nick serves to release Offred. Through her friendship with Nick she even discovers satisfaction with her life.
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Atwood on Nick and Offred’s relationship
-        If the regime forbids love affairs, then one of the most rebellious things that you can do is have one.
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Alan Weiss on Nick and Offred’s relationship
-        Offred’s ultimate confession of guilt comes after she begins her love affair with Nick.
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Carol Ann Howells on Nick and Offred’s relationship
-        Falling in love with Nick releases Offred into “the marvellous text of herself”
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Fredrik Pettersson on Ofglen
-        Ofglen is involved in the resistance and she is the one who pushes their relationship beyond what is generally accepted among Handmaids.
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Carol Ann Howells on Luke and Offred’s daughter Part 1
-        The one central traumatic memory is the loss of her husband Luke and their small daughter.
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Carol Ann Howells on Luke and Offred’s daughter Part 2
-        Although she heard the gunshots, she still cannot accept that Luke was killed, and such is the power of her longing that she continues to believe that one day she will receive a message from him and their family life will be restored.
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Fredrik Pettersson on Serena Joy
-        Serena Joy has been transformed from a “collaborator” to a woman who seemingly regrets her choices in life which led her to lose the power of expressing her opinions.
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Karen Stein on The Commander
-        The Commander’s smug certainties are punctured by ironic narration. -        More motivated by power than religious fervour.
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Margaret Atwood on Aunt Lydia
-        Aunt Lydia is based on the history of imperialism
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Roberta Rubenstein on The Aunts
-        The Aunts only retain power in the puritanical state through their roles as indoctrinators of the handmaids.
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Tara J. Johnson on The Aunts
-        The Aunts were created and portrayed by Atwood in a state of indoctrination to suggest that they have much or if not more power than the Commanders.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Carol Howell on Atwood’s aims


-        Atwood’s feminist concerns are evident, but so too are her concerns for basic human rights.

Card 3


1986 New York Times review of The Handmaid’s Tale


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Rigney on Atwood’s aims


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Allan Weiss on Atwood


Preview of the front of card 5
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