The Handmaid's TaleFirst person narrative - point of view of Offred gives us a feminist perspective on the events which happen. Idea that the narrative is constructed and would be different if taken from another character/perspective; her account of the events is subjective. But, also possible to argue that despite the fact that Offred is a very relatable narrator, her arguments could be bias and therefore unreliable:- She intentionally withholds information which she does not feel comfortable disclosing i.e, her name."It didn't happen that way either. I'm not sure how it happened; not exactly" (275)It's ... a story I'm telling in my head as I go along'. - 'story' suggests that her account is somewhat fictional, and certain aspects of her narrative may be exaggerated or changed depending on the negative/positive outlook in which she finishes her day. We can understand that she recognises that her story will be listened to, and will be interpreted in different way. 'This is a reconstruction. All of it is a reconstruction. It’s a reconstruction now, in my head' Also, we can relate to her and the speculation which she emits about certain events etc.
Frankenstein3 Narrative perspectives - Walton, Frankenstein and the Creature, all first person narration. Framed narrative. Walton - arguably the most reliable narrator of the three, most un biased view on the novel.Victor - Unreliable due to the fact that the events which unfold are biased on the terms of self- interest (becomes self pity). We can comment on the idea that he undertook a shift from reliable to unreliable, with the creation of his monster being the turning point, because before this, his narration was arguably objective as he describes the intentions behind is actions and exactly what he was doing, which essentially makes him a credible narrator. After the creation, he begins to recognise his flaws, and this means he avoids recognising the truth. 'Tortures of the accused did not equal mine'. - Victor is too self absorbed to be the best interpreter of other people's feelings, and does not recognise his own fears. The creature -
Wider literary context
The Handmaid's TaleRonald Reagan - Right wing backlash against more liberal, 'progressive' developments of the 60s and 70s. Idea of the reversal of women's rights Christian Fundamentalists - Called for the banning of certain books, the tightening of laws on abortion and women;s rights to choose, as well as attacking sexual freedom, the women's liberation movement, homosexual rights etc. "Why did God allow such a terrible thing to happen?" (82) - Possible to argue that Atwood is either mocking religion, or Offred is using God as an escape to the events happening in Gilead, and does not accept that the humans are possible of being in control of such oppression in the totalitarian society. We can draw parallels to our society here - Context of reception, Donald Trump. Atwood as a contemporary feminist - narrative includes the contrast between the rise of the second wave of feminism and the anti-feminist backlash of New Right Christian Fundamentalism - Offred's mother - represents the Women's liberation movement of the late 60s - early activist group protesting for women's sexual freedom, pro choice rallies and pornographic magazine burning - Opponents to feminism represented by the Commander's Wife and the Aunts, who show they are more than willing to collaborate with Gilead's regime to re-educate women back to traditional roles. - Links to the idea that Offred is resisting the 'brainwash' which the other women in the totalitarian society are following without doubt.
FrankensteinRomanticism - Use of nature and the outdoor settings give an impression of the sublime, which was used widely by romantic writers. Shelley mirrors the idea of romanticism by linking nature with man i.e, 'When the sun had recovered its warmth, and the earth again began to look green...I raised my humid eyes with thankfulness". Lack of motherhood in the novel for predominantly the monster- Shelley's mother died when she was young, so grew up without a model figure Galvanism - Louis Galvani suggested that human tissue contained a vital life force that electricity could release - inspiration for Mary Shelley's reanimation of a corpseContext of reception - Idea of abusing the power of science can result in designer babies, genetic modification - where does science cross the moral boundary? Shelley as a progressive author
The Handmaid's Tale- Significance of the night sections - They reoccur after each section, suggesting the strict regime which the Handmaids are under and the routine which they must follow. Also significant in bringing hope to Offred, as these are where her flashbacks occur, retelling her past with Luke, her daughter and her mother. - Significance of the ending, historical notes - confirms the idea of the Offred's narration being a construct
Frankenstein- Epistolary narratives - multiple narratives- Embedded narratives - both the creature and Victor's narratives are embedded between Walton's letters. But also, the letters embedded into Walton's narration etc.- Framed narrative - We can argue that the framed narrative makes the novel more believable, as each new perspective somewhat gives the novel more depth and reliability, and many of the events essentially have depth to them. - Narrative distancing - Despite the fact that Walton is arguably guiding the whole novel, as the chapters progress, we become distanced from him, and by the time the creature's narration arrives, we are in the centre of the embedded narration. The distance could also represent other 'distances' in the novel, such as the isolation for all three characters caused by the geographical/physical distances between
The handling of time
The Handmaid's Tale- Time shifts - She flashes back to certain significant locations: University days, Red Centre: sex/pelvic floor exercises, Red centre: hiding in the bathroom with Moria and Janine crying moment, First apartment with Luke, Running away together. Flashbacks significant in forming narrative structure - Offred flashes back to both times of happiness and contentment to distract herself from reality, but the hardest flashback seems to be that of her daughter. 'Wipe my wet face with my sleeve. Of all of the dreams this is the worst" (85) - Sympathy with Offred, but we cannot empathise with her situation, as we cannot imagine the idea of losing a child, however