How far have you found parallels in the presentation of the societies in "1984" and "The Handmaid's Tale"

Essay by zee7903 April 2007

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How far have you found parallels in the presentation of the societies in 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale?Both novels '1984' and 'The Handmaid's Tale' provide warnings of how each author saw certain problems in society leading to a dystopian state. Dystopian states exist in both novels but arise for different reasons. Resulting form Atwood's concerns about political groups and aspects of feminism; 'The Handmaid's Tale' illustrates how declining birth rates could lead to society where women are forced to bear children. In contrast '1984' depicts a terror state where poverty is rife and tyrannical leaders force people to live by their rules. Although both novels share certain aspects such as surveillance, deprivation and loss of identity, they describe two very different dystopian worlds.

Through Orwell and Atwood's portrayal of the dystopias we are able to see the states desire to control love and emotion, which are considered undesirable distractions in the states desire to create a totalitarian society.

It is this attempt at control in which the two novels contrast with both Orwell and Atwood portraying an intended utopia gone wrong.

In '1984', Orwell uses an omniscient third person narrator. The effect of this is that the reader does not feel emotionally involved with Winston; even his name 'Smith' suggests he is a symbol of everyone rather than an individual, it provides a distancing effect with the reader unable to feel compassion for the situation that Winston is in. We are told the story by a narrator in the style of an objective reporter. 'The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek.' From this perspective the novel could be seen as a failure as it does not manage to engage the reader fully however although this does provide a distancing effect, it also emphasises the depressing...