Chapter One- Broken

They are stained. Stained with the blood that once seeped through my veins. They hurt, they fucking hurt. Why? Why did I do this to myself? Tell me. Tell me. I don’t know. The thoughts that instructed me to do this, were stale and didn’t belong to me. Who is this? The walls that surround me were pale and cracked. Hollow voices that I heard each passing day were taunting and merciless. They hurt me; they caged me.

I tremble there, alone in the blackened corner, merging into it. I struggle to move my frail hands and when I do, they sting. The air surrounding me is hazy and smells fetid. Don’t breathe it in I beg; I have no choice. Faded voices outside slowly turn to whispers. Paranoia consumes me, it makes me the subject of these. She’s insane. She’s ugly. She’s hopeless. Yes, I am, I tell myself. What is the point of breathing, of talking, tasting, loving or laughing? What’s the point of feeling another’s lips pressed against mine, claiming me, engulfing me, belonging to me, and my hands intertwining with his? This used to be my own reality but is now an everlasting fantasy. I can see my mother picking the lingering shards of hope and potential from the floor to weave me back together, or rather try. I can also see my father shaking his head with disappointment and giving me up without hesitation; that has always been him. Hatred for me ran through his every move. I stand up. My hands are stinging again. The tap begins to drip its clarity upon my wounds, making me tense up. The cats outside claw at one another, the ambulance rushes past, the dog barks and I am left here. Not known or in the thoughts of someone. I am barely existing, slowly I am disintegrating to dust.

A pale and lifeless face lives inside the shattered mirror; it’s mine. No longer do I feel anything anymore as the sharp blade penetrates through my skin. Smiling as the vermillion coloured liquid escapes from beneath me. I know that this is wrong and selfish, but no longer am I who I was. The leaves falling softly to the ground, the final ice cream scoop into the cone, the application of bright red lipstick and the catching of falling snow in my mouth, don’t bring me happiness or release. I have lost the simplicity of these actions; I have lost me. I didn’t used to be this way. I used to be the one who went out, who applied the red lipstick with honour, who strutted the mini skirt and tight tank tops and I used to be the one who could get anyone I wanted. Now look at me. The lipstick no longer glides over smoothly as it once did. My lips are cracked and dry, my body is limp and has become one that I don’t want to see; I now hide away in remorse.

What are you doing? the voice inside my head screams. I try to fight it off, to bat it away from me, I fail. I fall. Down spiralling out of control. I cover my head and end up grasping too hard, hurting myself even more. I don’t cry this time. I just let it happen, feeling I am constantly holding my head above water, struggling not to give up and let myself go. The cats no longer claw at one another, there is silence; one is dead. The tap has stopped dripping, the dog no longer barks, the siren has faded into the distance and the whispers have gone. Footsteps begin to approach me from the outside. Mum.

Her raspy yet concerned voice calls out my name. A name that belonged to someone who was loyal, genuine and smart. Now it barely holds together a sarcastic, bitter and frail being. I yearn to feel wanted again, to no longer feel numb to wish I could meet their expectations of what were a promise of my childhood, Yes mum, I will make you proud. I remember her smile when I blurted out those words. When I looked deep into her oxford blue eyes, how those now muffled words soothed every bone inside her. Her voice is closer, my body aches. I want to give up. Do it; I will catch you. 

I want to sculpt a pattern into my canvased arm. I want to express the loud thoughts that corrupt my mind; I want to escape. 

“Where are you?”  She asks. Her keys fall to the floor in the distance. I can hear this. 

Footsteps are now at the closed door. Their silhouette shows itself and she knocks. She knocks louder and my ears ring. My heart rate begins to increase and then slows. My throat opens, welcoming the death I am about to swallow over and over again. Yes. The voice is now a hum. A hum I can’t and don’t want to decipher. I don’t want to decipher the meanings of pathetic excuses. I don’t want failure to be my ally. No screams, no fighting, no listening. I want to sleep. 

The door. The door breaks down. I swallow. I’m gone. 

V for Vendetta Scene Analysis

“The past can’t hurt you anymore. Not unless you let it. They made you into a victim, Evey. They made you into a statistic. But, that’s not the real you. That’s not who you are inside” In the film. V for Vendetta directed by James McTeigue, he signifies the rebellion against exploitation of an oppressing government. Symbolism is demonstrated to juxtapose the theme of identity and the rebellion against forced conformity. The viewers are taken through the life of Evey, She is living in near-futuristic London, which has been over taken by a fascist government, where simple rights are suppressed and freedom is stripped. As the movie progresses, Evey starts to take on the identity of V and the rebellion inside her that started off small begins to take over her; she is no longer afraid. The viewers then quickly learn of the main party in the film; V is a romantic vigilante who does not conform to this regime that the government has created. He holds concern over the loss of innocent life that has been taken for them being who they were. His aim is to change the governments ways by acting against it using different methods and tactics in hopes that the people will follow him. He wishes to mould a brand new society where freedom isn’t suppressed nor where human rights don’t exist with his idea being to retain peace and strip power from the government. Throughout the film, the director has used symbolism, camera angles and sound in order to portray the film in a way in which viewers are able to feel and think about the crucial ideas and reflect on the consequences that come in this kind of world. James McTeigue’s intention in this film is slightly more complex than most. There are themes about how the government should be afraid of its people and not vise versa. There are a few intense moments where the politicians use lies to cover the up the truth. The society that they live in was actually created through the idea of fear. Their own fear forced them to choose a government that had promised safety. When Evey believed she was being held prisoner by not telling them where V was, she realised that when she was removed of her mentality and physicality, the only thing she had left was her life. She didn’t give in to torture because she still had integrity. The experience of torture and accepting she would rather die than to conform, released her from her fear.

“You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it.” The most crucial symbol used in the film is V’s mask. The main purpose for this was to not give V an identity, but purely to make him a symbol.  V is everybody, he is not the portrayal of just one character, but is all the people in the society; the people who the government wronged. By wearing this mask, V becomes something greater than himself. He becomes the living soul of an ideal, an ideal that is reflected in everyone. They portray and hide the loss of a person’s identity. It isn’t just V who hides his truth with a mask, it is also seen in Evey. In the beginning, a close up shot is used of Evey putting makeup on her face, this is her mask in order to pretend she is confident and to hide her constant fear. The mask also represents opposition and revolt, which is the belief that V holds dearly.  The story poses an illogical dystopia in which time is the means and end for fascism. In domino scene, the viewers see an organised motif of both red and black dominoes set up in the shape of a V, paralleling the protagonist with his belief. The film uses both diegetic and nondiegetic sounds. There is a variation between the two kinds of sounds; however this is faded in to create significance between two events. In the domino scene when V releases his finger and the dominoes fall and the riot begins, we can see a lot of interchange between diegetic and nondiegetic sounds. The sound of falling dominos begins to increase in volume and becomes more chaotic and overwhelming. It is at this very point that the sound of a crowd’s enraged cries begins to fade into it. There is a quick cut to a long shot of a riot. The fusion of diegetic and nondiegetic sounds. reaches a peak, where the sound of the dominos falling is almost completely drowned out by what could be either a gun shot or perhaps a helicopter. This connection can be defined as a sound bridge. In this instance, the sound bridge is used to create a symbolic motif in the audience’s mind between the cascade of dominos set off by V,  and the riots taking place outside.

These dominoes portray symbolism as they are a representation of his ploy. They are an organised sequence in which demonstrates what V is doing with the dominos and what is occurring in the outside world. He places them side by side, cutting between the two events so the viewers shape a connection between them. At the beginning of the scene it shows V placing the first domino and then cuts to a long shot of various trucks driving, containing boxes of the masks that V exhibits. This is showing juxtaposition as this is seen as the first part of V’s ploy which can be related back to the first domino he flicks over with his gloved hand that covers burns from the government. In this scene the viewers are able to think about the link between what is taking place and how strong V wants this. They are impacted emotionally through what the are viewing. If we were to view this as from a societal point of view, we can see that sometimes the events that take place, are linked through different people, places and sometimes can just happen for a coincidence. Sometimes it is out of our hands of what happens and most times we cannot do anything about it, sometimes these things slip through our fingers and we must allow it to pan out in front of us.

“Die die, why won’t you die?” In this film, the director has purposely used different cinematography techniques to enhance meaning and the messages in the film. In the final fight scene, he has used different camera angles and different sequences of sound to demonstrate the significance of how passionate V is to rebuild and reshape London’s society. From the very beginning of the film, the viewers learn how strongly afraid the people are by the government and they feel that they must obey. When the fight scene begins, the idea of control and authority is highlighted. The director has used parallel action and symbolism to enhance the audiences understanding of the change in power and authority through the direct contrast. In the scene, V is shown to gain power over Adam Sutler through the use of a high angle on Sutler and a low angle on Adam. The high angles are showing the loss of power while low angles show gain of power. James McTeigue has also used symbolism to demonstrate the ideas of power. In this scene, the viewers can see the chancellor as being the main party, he is being focused on by using a close-up shot, which means the audience are able to understand his facial expressions and how serious he is. He demonstrates confidence and power and shows he knows fully what he intends to do to stop V. The close up shot then cuts to a low angle which represents how much authority he has. This causes the viewers to feel lesser than the chancellor. When we are looked down upon this makes us believe that we are something smaller than what we are and could be. We start to believe that there are people better than us, but the truth is; we are all human. This makes the audience feel powerless and unimportant.

Being held under such a forceful dictatorship, the society is made to follow what they believe is the truth. As the scene progresses, we see a figure emerge, with a black bag covering his head, and the viewers come to learn that it is the chancellor. This makes the viewers feel worried. There is confusion that lingers as he now understands V’s ploy. This is also the first scene in which the chancellor is viewed using a high angle, portraying how small the chancellor has become due to V’s tactics, which is juxtaposed where the viewers have been seeing the chancellor with power, authority and no remorse. Finally, we see the chancellor from an insignificant point of view, and can look down on him. This flips the authoritative figure and changes them entirely.

When V begins to fight, he executes it through dance which has been highlighted throughout the film as being a large part of who he is. He expresses an ironic piece of dialogue as he is in the midst of his killing ‘spree’ by saying “There’s no good revolution without dancing” A slow-motion technique is used in this when he begins to draw his knives and stab the men that stand in his way. He has finally come to the point where he can execute his plan and hurt the people who took away who he used to be. This slow motion technique and the scene in general, makes the audience feel both sad but proud for V has worked so hard for. This can be compared to the wider world through how some of us are so determined to get back at the people who hurt us, and perhaps the audience are able to relate to this and to reflect. The slow-motion can also be linked to dramatitising the scene, and the persona that V takes on. V is both violent and romantic, so in this scene this is focused on, with dance which is scene as a romantic act, whilst killing which is violent. As the scene progresses on, it is shown that by the bullets that hit V, injured him a great deal, and he knows he is going to die. V knew that this would happen, but he wanted to get his revenge. He died with the peace that Evey loved him, and his ploy was complete. He had the support and the burning desire to follow through with this, he died, but what started off as an idea lived on.

In the film, V for Vendetta directed by James McTeigue, crucial camera angles, symbolism and sounds, have been used in order to express and highlight the meanings that this movie was trying to portray. These techniques all help to make the audience think and cause different emotions to be striked into. It makes them reflect on wider societal issues such as politics, government and if they have made the right decisions when it comes to their governing leaders. Also, it makes them think about themselves as people. This movie expresses the ideas of power and justice and highlights them through the camera techniques, sound and symbolism. It ventures into the subject of dictatorship within a futuristic London society. It really details the idea that a belief can be stronger than we first intend. It can be turned into a reality and changing the world as we know it. Perhaps V’s ploy of blowing up the building may not lead to this, however this would be a start to what could happen if humanity doesn’t change it’s ways and how we have begun to run this world. In conclusion, I theorise that the overall moral of the story is to cherish your integrity and to not live in fear.

Minority Report Spider Scene Analysis

In the narrative Minority Report directed by Steven Spielberg, he uses different cinematography techniques in order to portray and enhance the dystopian genre that creates this film. Two of these techniques include the use of sound and camera angles. They are each used to complement one another as the events that take place are used to capture emotion and thought from the audience who may be watching. Through the different camera angles that are used, whether it be birds eye or close up, are used to tell a story. Birds eye shots are used to show how much technology controls and corrupts the minds and bodies of the people who live in this society. In this specific scene we see the animatronic spiders in search for the main character, John Anderton. To do this they must go through many rooms in the apartment, which the viewers are taken through with the use of a birds eye shot. These rooms hold everything from a couple in a heated argument, to a man sitting on a toilet, to a couple making love, which I believe parallels the fighting to the love making in the narrative quite well. They invade the small amounts of privacy that the members of society have, that technology hasn’t consumed and stripped away from them. The spiders are used to scan the eyes of them to find who they need, meaning they have to infiltrate their corrupted minds. Not only does this particular shot show how privacy is taken, it also shows the types of places where these people live and how the government has taken hold of basically everything. Houses, cars, jobs and worst of all; the people. They are living in a world in which they are no longer independent for the objects they ‘own’

There are important sounds which are used in this scene, that are made by the spiders and the music. This is their small feet walking upon the wooden floors, but shown as being louder, and the screeching sounds that are used when they believe they have found someone. The sounds being louder than in reality of the feet on the pannels have deliberately been used by the dirctor to show their influence on this part. This is shown when John is lying in an ice bath, and a bubble is created and emphasised when it pops. This is when the sound is amplified and suspensful music is used to show that this is crucial in the scene. There is then a close up shown on John showing fear in his eyes and how the spiders hold more power and a higher social status than he does. This effects the viewer through showing how much technology, over time, has actually taken hold of us and how much we rely on it. The portrayal of technology in this scene, does hold some truth for todays world, through how much control a phone or another piece of technology has over the human race. There is also irony in this scene alone through when we see the spiders climb over the bath to find John, and we see it from a point of view shot. It is expressing how they are the ones controlling anything or anyone that is deemed human. The audience get to experience how technology holds a higher status above the ones who should be mastering them, not just through a visual sense but also in a realistic sense. Fear is created through this when the music becomes louder the tension builds higher and higher. This is highlighting how these people don’t actually have any freedom which can be cross referenced in todays world being so dependent and attached to the screens in front of us.

Technology is used in this film to keep the society and the people in order. It expresses how much power technology actually has begun to have over everybody. The spiders in the film hold technological and humanistic traits because of how often it is used as days go by. This is showing the viewers how technology isn’t just something that we sometimes use, or sometimes rely on in our lives, it has become us. It is no longer just deemed as being useful or a want; it is a need.



3.4 Critical Review- The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale- Margaret Atwood

One of the strongest and most valuable themes and messages that is demonstrated in this narrative is the importance of freedom of values and humanity as a whole. This novel is seen as a warning by Margaret Atwood of what could be if we continue as we are. It is stating how the future may pan out if we don’t end the ways we go about taking action to different situations. Ways, such as not regognising who has power and what this power has begun to do to women and how it treats them. If we don’t start reflecting on how society and humanity has begun to evolve then there will be vicious repercussions. As said by Paulo Coelho “A mistake repeated more than once is a decision” this is the case in how humanity does not seem to learn from the mistakes it has created in the ways of religion.  In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ written by Margaret Atwood, we are taken through the eyes of Offred, who is the protagonist of the novel. The Handmaid’s Tale focuses on a totalitarian theocratic regime in the current United States, that takes away power from women. In the republican society known as “Gilead” which is another dystopian fiction that is under total control of the government and distorts and corrupts biblical texts, women no longer have any control, any freedom or any rights. They are denied to be who they used to be as well as being controlled and governed by men who they belong to. Their identity has been forgotten and they are to live as nothing but a product, trying to steal back what was stolen from them.

This book in itself creates a terrifying yet accurate ordeal of the future that is to come. The book is short on developing characterisation, with only few but crucial characters and holds onto the idea of cynicism. It sets a dark scene of a fixed feminist perspective of an apocalypse period, with men having free control of women and persuing them in order to have reign on what they choose to do to them. Women have been each put into formed subdivisions in order for them to know where they ‘belong’ such as the Wives and the breeders. There are also social hierachies, for the women there are Wives, Aunts, Handmaids, Econowives, Marthas and Unwomen, and for men there are Commanders of the Faithful Eyes, Angels and Guardians. A handmaids only have one sole purpose; to reproduce. Their bodies are seen as a both a tool and gift of purity that must be fertilised  by the men who govern them. They are a natural resource, which Offered understands. It is the duty of the commander to inseminate his assigned partner. There is control through sexuality through how the men have free roam to be able to try and fertilise them, but if a Handmaid were to enjoy sexual and moral freedom, this comes with a high price.

Freedom of values is something that all should be able to hold onto, not something that should be stripped away. The value of a name, an identity, a life and a vision, these are what are taken and lost in The Handmaid’s Tale. A name that each individual onced conformed too, once held and protected, has had to be overtaken by one that deems fit. Each name begins with the same letters that coresponds to the men that they serve. Offred is the slave of Fred, which reveals how much authority men have over women, her name is bluntly “of fred” adding the word ”of” is to reveal possession, also shown with ”Ofwarren” Names are seen as an illusion in The Handmaids Tale refering to outside societal ideas. This can supposidly be seen with the characters Moira, who is Offred’s best friend, and Luke, who is her husband. Moira may be to the Virgin Mary and Luke may be Saint Luke. Atwood uses religious connections from a wider world concept in her work to express more of what occurs in society. In Gilead, women are seen as a product rather than an individual holding a greater purpose. Offred is yet another product, of the man whom she lives to serves each day that passes. Details of Atwood’s newly formed  state are seen in other novels that express the same ideas, such as George Orwell’s 1984. That novel has come to be seen as a fierce ethical piece of literature that both disturbs yet awakens its readers to what could be. As diverse as Atwood was from Orwell both share the same ideals in the way women are treated, and how this can be long away from fantasy to be turned into a realistic nightmare.

Specific readers of this novel, may view it in a different way than I myself might. Atwood speaks of the ideas of homosexuality, rape and pornography a great deal. Women had to conform to a life where they were controlled, but were able to have some form of control over their fertility with using conception. For all that women must suffer in this state, horror becomes a well known concept that they must endure, it becomes their everyday, it becomes what they are a part of. “Ordinary. Aunt Lydia says. Is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary  to you now. But after a time it will. It will become ordinary.”

Control is exerted through language in the novel, clothing represents each individuals status and what they stand for. They prohibit reading of any form of free communication, which reveals how literate Offred is, as she suffers from being deprived of books. Even before Gilead had come into being, language had been dominated by male-oriented choices. Man and He had been used for people in general. There is an unrestricted amount of feminism written about in “The Handmaids Tale” which lives throughout Gilead, and is one of the main reasons it came into being. In a flashback with Offred (who we faintly learn that her real name is June) and her mother, at a fire; book-burning in the old time before Gilead has existed, of pornographic magazines, to ‘protect’ the women from the idea of sex or anything in a sexual nature. Her mother views this as being the ‘right’ thing.  Offred ( the narrator of the book) who is now in the present time period, knows of the world she wanted to live in. Her mother states”You wanted a women’s culture. Well, now there is one.” This is not what she wished for, not to be dominated and governed by a world of men. The women fear the governments punishment if they were to try to overthrow them. The women of Gilead are jealous of each other, thus fail to unite as a front and overthrow the republic.

The main reason that Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale was to make her readers think and understand deeper about how the world would be viewed in years to come. This can be related to this year in 2018, through looking at the state of women’s rights in America. For example the right to health care and also gender-based violence. It is horrific that we need to urge the United States government identify in writing and deed that women’s rights are human rights. Women have rights to participate and live in a society without fear of violence from others and to be in control of their own bodies and lives. ‘The Handmaids Tale’ was seen as a warning of the foundation that humanity would eventually not only sit upon but act. How people would convey information, and that racial oppression could lead to a rebellion, how there would be shifts in morals of individuals. Atwood was troubled by the 1980’s debates on feminist attitudes, mainly towards sexuality as well as pornography. Feminists were protesting against the forever demanding nature of pornography. They felt wronged by religious groups wishing to ban pornography in order to “protect women”

This idea of religious zealots limiting women’s freedom for “protective” reasons is highly notable in this piece of literature. This can be seen in the world today in middle eastern countries. Women have very few rights of their own. They have to have permission from their male partner to be able to travel to other places, and if they do travel they need to have a male chaperone with them. In other countries however, women have come far in the rights that they now grasp. For example, here in New Zealand, we were the first country to allow women the vote, to be able to have a say in how their country would be viewed and governed. “There is more than one kind of freedom… freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it”

Narrative Structure

What do you notice about the use of present and past tense? Of speech marks? Of capital letters?

Very little actually happens in Offred’s story. Why is this appropriate to the themes of the novel?

What is the strength of this type of narrative structure? Why is this appropriate and more effective than a straightforward narrative would be?

What is the point of view of this novel? What is the effect of this point of view on this story? How reliable is the narrator?  The novel is told in the point of view of the Offred, who is a handmaid. She is telling it from her perspective of what is taking place and how she is seeing the account of events. Although this may be reliable, she could have twisted the actual truth and told what she wanted to see and tell rather than the raw account of events that actually took place. It is told only through her eyes

How reliable is the narrator?


Allusion’s Sheet

Biblical Allusions are a reference within a literary work to a story, idea, or event that is related in the Bible or other biblical writings.

Jezebels is the name given to the secret brothel where certain women are sent to work as prostitutes under the Republic of Gilead. The women sent to Jezebel’s are usually rebellious women who are offered the choice between Jezebel’s and the Colonies.

Rachel and Jacob. Rachel is first revealed in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 29 when Jacob arrives as she is about to water her father’s flock. She was the second daughter of Laban, Rebekah’s brother. Jacobhad travelled a far in order to find Laban. Rebekah had sent him there to be safe from his furious twin brother, Esau.

Gilead is referring to a mountainous region east of the Jordan River divided among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh which is situated in modern-day Jordan.

Freud and his theories – ‘Penis Envy’ Penis envy is a period that was speculated by Sigmund Freud talking about female psychosexual development, where young girls experience anxiety when they realise that they do not have a penis. The parallel reaction of a boy’s realisation that women do not have a penis is castration anxiety.

Marxism is the political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which was later developed by their followers to shape the beginning of communism. There was always a hierarchy 

George Orwell’s 1984-

Why has Atwood included Allusions in the text? What do they tell us about Offred and Gilead?

Where is the novel set?- The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian, Christian theonomy that has overthrown the United States government.

In which contemporary geographical place is Gilead located? Cite evidence-Gilead is referring to a mountainous region east of the Jordan River divided among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh which is situated in modern-day Jordan.

What contemporary university is referred to? Give information about this
university. Why is its inclusion important? Harvard is the university that is mentioned. It is a private university located in Massachusetts.  17,000 Puritans migrated to New England by 1636, Harvard was founded in anticipation of the need for training clergy for the new commonwealth, a “church in the wilderness”.

What are we told about the world outside of the house/Gilead? What is the
significance of that?

Make notes on the following areas of the Commander’s house, using quotes to support your comments: Offred’s room (Chapter 2 and 9); The garden; The sitting room (Ch. 14), The Commander’s study (Ch. 23)

Offred’s Room: At the start, it is set in a gymnasium and they have to sleep in army cots. The women are forbidden to speak. The scene then changes to be in the present and Offred now lives in room fitted with curtains, a pillow, a framed picture and a braided rug. There is no glass in the room though. Even on the picture that is framed. The window doesn’t open fully and the windowpane is shatterproof 

The Garden: There are two observations of nature ‘opening’ which contrast the restrictiveness of the household where Offred lives. The same word, ‘opening’, is used by Offred in chapter 27 when she feels that she and Ofglen have achieved some ‘real communication’, and states that ‘hope is rising in me, like sap in a tree.’ The garden as a whole represents “an impulse for life that cannot be denied” Offred also explains to the reader what her experience was like with her own garden before she became a handmaid. She said she remembers “the smell of the turned earth, the plump shades of bulbs held in the hands, fullness, the dry rustle of seeds through the fingers”

Commander’s Study:

The Sitting Room: Offred describes the sitting room as “weirdly, domestically furnished and reflecting a great deal of wealth”

Make notes on Jezebel’s. Focus upon the contrast with the rest of the Gilead
settings (Ch. 37)
Research a Totalitarian regime, either one that is contemporary or historical.

How does Gilead echo this setting?


Control is the overriding theme presented within the novel, but there are subsets of this theme. Using the subsets below, find three examples (using quotations and list the page reference) that highlight each idea.

  • Control of thought
  • Control of women
  • Control of movement
  • Control of sexuality
  • Control through fear

Closely analyse one section of the text that shows ONE theme and discuss how it encapsulates the theme (photocopy and annotate this)

Characters- Major Characters
The Commander
Serena Joy

Facts, for example – Offred is 33 years old, has had a daughter…
Actions, for example – Offred capitulates to the regime because she is too afraid for her daughter to protest
Adjectives/Phrases – Offred is educated (university graduate; good job
in the library)
Conclusions/overall description – for example; The whole story is told
from Offred’s point of view, She is not a hero; she is passive

Facts- Aged in her 40’s. Serena Joy is the wife of commander Fred, who is using Offred to be able to obtain a child of her own, as she is unable to conceive. Offred states that her real name is actually Pam.  She also smokes cigarettes (which is a banned object)

Actions- Finds out that Offred has been having an emotional affair with the commander and she furiously confronts her. She offers Offred cigarettes and information on her daughter to be able to get a child of her own

Phrases- Used to be a talented singer before the creation of Gilead


Facts- Nick is in his 30’s. He is a guardian whom serves Commander Fred. Nothing is known about his life before the creation of Gilead. Offred suspects he may be an eye.


Phrases- “No one’s, above the law Commander”


Minor Characters
Offred’s Mother
Aunt Lydia

Overall description, as well as discussing their significance

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale focuses on a totalitarian theocratic regime that takes away power from women and is seen through the eyes of a woman called Offred. The main reason I think that Atwood wrote the handmaid’s tale was to make us think about how the world would be viewed in years to come. Almost seen as some sort of warning of the foundation that humanity would eventually sit upon as well as act. Also how people would convey information, and that racial oppression could lead to a rebellion and the shifts in morals.

Gilead as another dystopian fiction is under the total control of the government. Control is exerted through language, clothing, prohibition of reading any form of free communication


Social Hiérarchies

Women- Wives, Aunts, Handmaids, Econowives, Marthas, Unwomen

Men- Commanders of the Faithful Eyes, Angels, Guardians, Gender Traitors (Male/Female)


Handmaid’s only purpose is to reproduce, they are made breeders. Offred knows she is a natural resource

Inability to retaliate- the women fear the governments punishment are jealous of each other. They fail to unite and overcome the republic

Woman cannot have jobs, own property, vote etc…


Costumes (status and hide individuality) Compare Handmaid’s clothing to nuns or women in Islam

Eyes (the symbol of police ‘The Eyes of god’- are always watching. ‘Under His Eye’ as in George Orwell’s 1984 Big Brother is watching

Red (fertility, sin, violence)

Mirrors (a source of identity but are removed for safety)

Flowers (fertility and beauty. The tulip and the handmaid= colour, death and function)

Cambridge Massachusetts (settled by Puritans)

Harvard University (the centre of US knowledge now used for torture)

Scrabble game (control over language and words)

Allusions add layers of meaning to the narrative by evoking the associations that go with the original

Suggest the way the minds works, with sights and events triggering memories of literature, art, pop culture, etc… (Red Riding Hood)

Biblical texts are distorted and corrupted by Gilead government

Show how literate Offred is- emphasising how much she must suffer from being deprived of books

Women are dismissed from their jobs when the regime takes over

Dilema that enjoying sexual and moral freedom may come at a price

Even before Gilead came into being, language had for centuries been dominated by male-oriented choices (for example ‘man’ and ‘he’ being used for people in general)

Atwood shows the power of language and being aware of subtitles of meaning (of which Atwood makes us particularly aware through her use of puns)

During games of scrabble with the commander, Offred tastes words as a sensuous experience (chapter 23)- power of writing

Women in Society:

The former society included rape and pornography- on the other hand, women had some degree of control over their fertility via conception

Aunt Lydia says: “there is more than one kind of freedom… freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to.  Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it”

Awakened- Creative Writing


Eyes closed, body stiff, mouth dry, muscles weak and frail. You lie there, confused yet undisturbed and peaceful, away from demons that caress your soul as if it was their own. Your mind is awake and functioning, almost as if it is a dream that clouded reality. Whispers that surround you are easily heard but impossible to make out, or respond to. The hand that lies upon yours is numb, as well as the fiery tears that drown it. Air that surges around, and stale thoughts that cling to the walls, trap you in darkness. Outside, the blossoms dance a pure waltz in the quiet embrace of the wind and you remember when you were part of what they share. The lullaby that it sang when you fell asleep carelessly under the stars was clear and calming. Days of weakness drift by painfully and tirelessly, playing with each thought you somehow cradle in feeble arms. Feelings of uneasiness are haunting, and force the shadow of the past to tease you.   

This has not always been your life though, please tell me you remember. The euphoric sound of laughter, the taste of sweet air, the feeling of love and being loved, before everything turned sour? Do you remember when you could swallow saliva without fear or doubt? or the smile that appeared without reason, in synchronisation with them or when you could smile at all? When he took your hand, feeling his fingers intertwine within yours, feeling heartbeats match. Lips pressing against lips, forcing the blood to whisk to your head as he enveloped you? These days have faded, but you cling onto that ounce of humanity, hoping that it will make you whole once more. You wish you could wake up as a child, free of worry, free of regret; free of torment. That you could redo everything, and erase what now defined you. Wishing your heart had not been corrupted by the event that changed it all. That your mother would smile down at you, welcoming you back, seeing your father weep as his little girl returned to be back with him. All they could see was a fragile body lying still, not breathing, talking, laughing; living.

Your eyes are open, body still stiff, mouth retaining moisture, and muscles gaining back fragments of strength. The hand you didn’t use to be able to feel, remains there, still drowning yours in aged tears, yet new ones form which are tepid and show felicity for you have awakened. Movement is still foreign, but a smile is not, it feels good to be able to express emotion, even just one at a time. Dizziness has taken hold of your head but you don’t give it a second thought. Whispers have gone and so has your inability to make them out. You can hear the sounds that were muted, and respond without keeping it bottled inside your limp figure. The room smells new and strange, you can’t decipher it, it isn’t sweet nor salty. Hot sweat runs down carmine cheeks, searing the skin as you try to move but fail. You are only able to blink each second that passes by, and wriggle your legs under thin sheets that engulf your body. This does not beset you, the world lays at your wobbly feet once more. Oxford blue eyes belonging to you are no longer shielded by dry eyelids, you have returned and are ready; ready to try again.

We Are all Human Speech

Year 12 Speech- What is right? What is just?

We are all Human

“It is revolutionary for any trans person to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist” When we mention or even see the word transgender written down, most of us choose to turn a blind eye to them, who they are and/or what they classify themselves as. It is sad when trans people are not given the same equal rights as somebody who was born into the body that they were comfortable in, for trans people this is different. For some, it was easy to accept and move on, for others, it simply took a bit more time and effort to stop being who they weren’t.


We are so oblivious in today’s society about the rights that the trans community are not being granted, and we are so happy to sit back and do nothing about it. What has happened to equality? Is it now only a word? Will it actually ever be an action? We are so happy to to think that someone else will do something about the situation, but the truth is that the only people who are helping, are the one’s that this is happening to. In 2011, a national report against transgender discrimination revealed that, 78% of the over 6,450 respondents that were surveyed, had received some sort of harassment throughout their schooling life, and that this harassment was so profound that 15% of them were forced to leave school. In 2016, another survey was conducted with 28,000 people. Of these 28,000 people, 26% of them lost a job due to bias, 50% of them were harassed on the job, 20% were evicted or denied housing, and 78% of trans students were harassed or assaulted. Violence comes in many forms when you identify yourself as a transgender. It is commonly done by the hands of strangers, but can happen in familiar hands; the hands they think they are safe in, the ones at home; family violence. Violence done by the people who have promised to love them through each and every decision that they make. The ones who promised to help and support them through what they go through. Violence from the hands who are never meant to lay a finger on them.


It is unfair that transgender people are not treated the same as say, someone who is, “normal” How is normal defined really? Ordinary life, straight, cisgender, good family life, small group of friends? Because these people were not born how they wanted, and changed, they aren’t normal? Transgenders have been stripped of the same rights that someone who does not identify as transgender has. There have been many court cases in which the court claimed to have the child’s interests as their best intentions, but have ruled against the transgender parent, which resulted in them losing access to their child, solely on the basis of gender identity. A court’s view on this situation, is that it will be emotionally confusing for a child to see their father as a woman or vise versa. This view is flawed. Chances are that the transgender has been this way fo next person has her own story. When Nikki Hayden, was the young age of four she didn’t actually know she was a girl. One of her earliest memories was when she was five and got shouted at by a teacher for going into the girls’ bathroom. She knew at this early age that she was different. Different from the other boys. When she was nine she refused to have her haircut, she wanted to keep it long, however when she was 16 she was forced into having it cut, this was emotionally tormenting for her though. As you can imagine, she was bullied for her differences. She was thin, feminine, had no interest in football and hung with the girls. The people she went to school with, picked at every feature she had, and mocked everything to do with gender and sexuality, you name it, they said it. She did not realise that their was a name for what she was identifying herself as. She learned what trans meant through YouTube. A lightbulb went off in her head and she had discovered who she had been her entire life. To this day, she doesn’t actually tell people that she is transgender. She feels normal and comfortable as she is. Nikki says that “Trans people are the same as everyone else, our ideals in life are to be happy, to be respected, to be comfortable. I’ve had people who have openly said to me that they’ve had prejudices around trans people but as soon as they’ve met me they’ve understood more – it’s who I am and the way that I was born. There’s no real difference between myself and people who are cisgender [non-transgender]” Nikki’s intentions were clear, she was always a woman, she just had to live in the wrong body; the body of a guy for the first sixteen years of her life.


The next story I am choosing to share with you, is the one of Keith Reynolds. He says that people have got it into their heads that they wake up and decide to be trans. He wants people to understand that it is not a choice. He told his mum when he was 13 years 99s intentions were clear, she was always a woman, she just had to live in the wrong body; the body of a guy for the first sixteen years of her life.


The next story I am choosing to share with you, is the one of Keith Reynolds. He says that people have got it into their heads that they wake up and decide to be trans. He wants people to understand that it is not a choice. He told his mum when he was 13 years of age. His mum was shocked and didn’t really understand what he meant. Six months after telling his mum, he told his dad, who was furious at the news. There was a lot of tension in the air at that moment. He couldn’t wear men’s clothing or deodorant without it breaking out in an argument. His dad then got cancer, and sadly died a week before he turned 16. When his dad got got sick they didn’t talk about him being trans. Keith thought that once he had recovered, they would go back to talking about it, but he didn’t recover. After his dad died, he found a book about transgender young people and immediately gave it to him mum, who read it, and was changed completely. She told him that both she and his dad were worried about how this would affect his life, in the sense of finding a job and a life partner. This did not turn out to be difficult. He has never had trouble finding jobs, and has a partner. Keith’s story proves that trans people can do anything they put their minds too. They have the same outlook as anyone else and require the same respect and love as the rest of us.


We are all human. We are all searching for attention, love, respect and support. These things, no matter who we are, are things we all crave. Discrimination against trans people needs to come to an end as soon as possible. These verbal and physical threats are not right. Granted, the difference of saying we will do something rather than actually doing it is massive. We are all capable of saying that we can do something to end it, but what about actually acting on it? It can be as simple as providing emotional support for the transgender and gender nonconforming people you know, especially when they are finding it hard due to rejection from family members and friends, or struggling because of discrimination out in the world. If you wish to help further, you can ensure your workplace/school has a written policy against discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Work to enforce non-discrimination policies for medical health, or social service providers. You can work to fix health and health insurance systems to end discriminatory exclusions for transition-related health care. In New Zealand we have an organisation called Rainbow Youth who supports gender diverse teens in New Zealand by supporting them through their journey. Be We need to remember that;

We are human. We are not perfect. We are alive. We try things. We make mistakes. We stumble. We fall. We get hurt. We rise again. We try again. We keep learning. We keep growing. And… we are thankful for this priceless opportunity called life”


By Kimmi McArthur