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Offred’s Narrative Technique in The Handmaid’s Tale

Offred affects every single aspect of “The Handmaid’s Tale”, so, in order to understand her narrative technique better, her character must also be considered.

Offred is nostalgic, she longs for her pre-Gilead past with which she still identifies very strongly. She is, however, realistic in her longing; she knows that the past was not perfect, that it was no utopia, but she just longs for a situation preferable to her present one, “…We lived, as usual, by ignoring…”. Another strong reason for to long for the past is that she was basically happy there, she had a daughter and a lover, both of which she was removed from by the Gilead regime. Her longing for the past is bittersweet, although it has many memories for her, not all of them are happy. Also, whenever she thinks of the past, she is reminded of how awful her present situation is, she is reminded of what she has lost. Perhaps that is why she refers to the past as “…the other time…”.

She is also a fighter. She is determined to survive, to “last” through Gilead, no matter what it takes. The important distinction here is between survival and rebellion; Offred will only go so far in defiance of the regime, while she is prepared to stretch the rules with an insignificant Guardian on the road into the town, she limits herself, describing it as “….a small defiance of rule….like the candy I hoarded, as a child..”. When it comes to serious defiance, she draws a definite line, ” “No. I can’t” ” she says when the doctor offers to impregnate her, “The penalty is death”. Perhaps that is what Offred is really afraid of. Death is her real fear.

In order to keep herself sane, Offred has invented several survival mechanisms, games w…

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…ve technique.

Works Cited and Consulted

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Anchor Books: New York, New York, 1985.

Conboy, Sheila C. “Scripted, Conscripted, and Circumscribed: Body Language in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.” Anxious Power: Reading, Writing, and Ambivalence in Narrative by Women. Eds. Carol J. Singley and Susan Elizabeth Sweeney. Albany : State U of New York P, 1993. 349-62

Fitting, Peter. “The Turn from Utopia in Recent Feminist Fiction.” Feminism, Utopia, and Narrative. Eds. Libby Falk Jones and Sarah Webster Goodwin. Knoxville : U of Tennessee P, 1990. 141-158.

Garlick, Barbara. “The Handmaid’s Tale: Narrative Voice and the Primacy of the Tale.” Twentieth-Century Fantasists: Essays on Culture, Society and Belief in Twentieth-Century Mythopoeic Literature. Ed. Kath Filmer. New York : St. Martin’s, 1992. 161-71.

Macbeth as the Aristotelian Tragic Hero

Macbeth as the Aristotelian Tragic Hero

The first criterion that a tragic hero must comply to is that they must be above average. They must be Khrestos. Macbeth is khrestos. He is described as “valour’s minion” 1-2 19. Valour’s minion means bravery’s favourite. Also he is spoken of as “brave” and “Bellona’s bridegroom”. Bellona was the goddess of war. Duncan, the king, describes Macbeth as “noble”. And also uses a familiar term for Macbeth, as if he is in the kings family. “o’ valiant cousin, worthy gentleman”. These quotations from Duncan carry more weight as they are from the highest nobility, the monarch himself. These quotes evidence that Macbeth is khrestos. Everyone thinks highly of him and he is already Thane of Glamis, then he becomes Thane of Cawdor. The Thane of Cawdor is executed for being a traitor, so Macbeth inherits the label of a traitor, even though it is not known.

Another condition of a tragic hero is that he must have a flaw in his character that will prove fatal to his life or status. This flaw is called Hamartia. Macbeth’s hamartia is that he is ambitious. It is obvious that he has thought about being king before the predictions of the three witches. “if chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir”. This quote evidences this fact. The best piece of evidence of Macbeth’s hamartia is his line. “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself”. It is also clear that he is ambitious, when he is at the castle of Duncan and Malcolm is named as the Prince of Cumberland, which is heir to the throne….

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…ies Macduff’s son when he is stabbed by an assassin. We also feel fear and pity for Banquo when he is killed whilst on his innocent ride with Fleance. Both scenes before each respective murder are sweet and homely and make the reader feel doubly upset when the characters are murdered. Some people pity Macbeth during his anagnorisis, but not during his peripetiea when his relationship with his wife is falling apart, we tend to pity Lady Macbeth. “how now my lord, why do you keep alone” 3-2 l8. She sounds upset and innocent when we still really know that Lady Macbeth is pure evil and helped to corrupt her husband.

I conclude, that I do believe Macbeth is a true tragic hero in the Aristotelian sense. Macbeth fits all the criteria and I do indeed experience catharsis, all the way through the play.

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