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Discuss the various ways in which Atwood uses setting and environment to highlight Gilead’s oppression.

Choose 1 of the prompts below for your final exam. All prompts are based on the novel A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

1.) Contrast the coping mechanisms of Moira and Offred, particularly defiance, rebellion, escape, assertiveness, sexual indulgence, smoking, drugs, networking, and withdrawal.

2.) Discuss the various ways in which Atwood uses setting and environment to highlight Gilead’s oppression.
3.) Aunt Lydia says to the Handmaid-trainees, “We were a society dying of too much choice.” How does this relate to her distinction between freedom from and freedom to? What freedoms does Gilead claim to be providing its citizens? What freedoms are being denied?
4.) Offred’s narration is made up of a confusing mix of details from the present tense action of the novel and details from her various memories of the past. In what ways are her memories connected to what is happening to her at the Commander’s house? Why has Atwood chosen a narrative style that so frequently blurs distinctions between present and past?
5.) In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood presents a first person narrator who chronicles her experiences under an extremely oppressive, misogynistic regime. Explore the development of this character during the course of her narrative. Does she move from fear and intimidation to the liberation of her will, or is the character formation more complicated in this text?
6.) Is Atwood’s novel ultimately a feminist work of literature, or does it offer a critique of feminism?
7.) What role does Moira play in the novel? How does her significance change as the story progresses?

8.) Choose your own topic for the final exam. (Remember, this topic must be based on A Handmaid’s Tale) Of course, I have to approve the topic before you start. Email me your ideas if you would like to choose this option.


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