.“The imaginary world of a novel helps the reader to understand the author’s intentions.” To what extent do you agree with this view? Respond to this question with reference to one or more novels.
Throughout the ages writers have explored unanswered philosophical and political questions. In the Dystopian novel The Handmaids Tale by Margret Atwood, the author creates a monolithic theocratic society that explores ‘the hunger to use God as a weapon’. Religion is used to repress and control a society that is ruled by fear and injustice. The novel is a parody of the 1980’s right wing conservative values in the Western world. This novel was intended to be a political statement that serves as a warning to coming generations that our blind faith in democracy and the credibility of religion could have damaging repercussions for mankind.
Atwood paints a picture of a bleak, post-feminist world set in Gilead. It is set in North America, Massachusetts. Atwood selected this area as it played host to the Salem Witch hunts which were attacks on people believed to be practicing Witchcraft. These were justified by a religious precedent. It is also the home of Harvard University which is the home of Western intellectual thought. In the novel Harvard is ironically used as the headquarters of ‘the Eyes’ who are the body that runs and controls Gilead. Also, part of the university is used for the ‘Salvagings’ which is where the opposition of the regime were ceremoniously punished by the matriarchal figureheads. In Atwood’s imaginary setting this location is used to great effect to show what could happen. Atwood depicts a world that is polluted physically, mentally and intellectually. Similarly, Jezebels is a secret gentleman’s club void of the rules and restrictions that prohibits free thought and physical expression. The author uses Jezebels to reinforce the hypocrisy of many authoritarian societies throughout the world.
In Atwood’s Gilead, religion is used to suppress and control...