Margaret Atwood

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Biographical Overview

Leah

Margaret Atwood, a Canadian born writer, has won over fifty-five awards for her books of poems and novels. Throughout her lengthy career, she has alternated between poetry and prose. Although her poems and novels represent different aspects of her life, the styles of both are similar. Her vivid, exact, simplistic and unsparing style is shown in many ways in The Handmaid’s Tale and The Penelopiad. Both books embody her aesthetic approach to writing that combines science and fiction. Through this combination, Atwood is able to convey her speculative vision of the future of mankind and her beliefs in saving the earth for humankind’s future existence.




Shannon

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on November 18th, 1939. She first married in 1967, to another writer, but soon separated. In 1972, she remarried again to Graeme Gibson and had a daughter. She is a fiction writer, but is also known for her books of poetry. She books have been widely known and translated into over 30 languages around the world. The first work published was in 1960, called The Circle Game. She wrote many books specific to women’s issues and several created quite the controversy. Her work tends to be problematic, because a lot of her work is usually way ahead of its time. Atwood studied at the University of Toronto, and then continued her studies later on at Radcliffe College. Her book, The Blind Assassin won the Booker Prize in 2000, and several other books of hers got shortlisted for this award including Alias Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Cat’s Eye. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of her most popular books and recently got made into a movie. In addition, her first collection of poems were self-published in 1961, “Double Persephone. Not only does she write poems and literature, Atwood also creates a plethora of children books and does not limit herself to just fiction.
(Shannon Nierman)







A visual essay on The Handmaid 's Tale


The Handmaid’s Tale Reaction


My first thought to The Handmaid’s Tale, was first, the surprise that the main character with a name such as Offred, was a girl. The only impression I had of this book, was the title. I didn’t know the actual definition of a handmaid, but looked it up before I read the book, which was simply defined as a “women servant”. Before I even read it, I assumed that it would be about domestic violence and the issues with women as slaves and/or servants.
Then actually reading the book, I realized it was nothing what I expected, but that my assumption of issues on women was correct. Even though the women weren’t actual literal servants, they were forced to use their bodies as a source of reproduction, because of the low fertility rates of Gilead. I was disgusted by the way the women were treated in the book, and was angry with Margaret Atwood for making characters like that; though I understand her reasoning for writing this book to inform people about different issues that women are dealt with. In addition, when the book referred to the police watching Offred and her every move, I immediately got a visual picture of the poster of “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”, which seemed to be the case overall in this book, because they were always watching her.
Finally, the last straw the really mad me angry, was when I was finishing the book. The reader is given many unanswered questions in the book. Atwood creates this ambiguous ending in which it simultaneously leaves you hanging. As we finish the last page, we are unaware of whether Offred ends up successfully escaping with Nick, or if she gets captured again.
(Shannon Nierman)

Surfacing Reaction


My other selection was another Margaret Atwood where I had to look up the meaning to the title, Surfacing. When looking it up the definition defines it to mean “coming to the surface”. After reading the book I see why is was called that in the first place, because when the main character is on adventure to look for her father she has to go underwater to look for a painting and “come to the surface”.
I was a bit frustrated at the beginning of the book when I soon realized that the main character didn’t have a name and doesn’t throughout the whole book! Having that happen, distracted me from the book as a whole; however, the suspense from the book brought my attention back to the story. I enjoy a good thrilling mystery, which Surfacing accurately showed. I thought that during the search for the main character’s father got a bit boring, but towards the end when her friends left her, if became a page turner once again. She got unstable and a bit crazy for a moment near the end of the story, which added interest to the end of the story.
(Shannon Nierman)


The Handmaid's Tale Reaction

Initially The Handmaid’s Tale was a little difficult to get into. The premise of the book was a little weird and the book started off fairly slowly but that sparked some curiosity for me. A fourth of the way through the book, it started to pick up and my interest only grew from there. The Handmaid’s Tale is written with such simplicity that I could easily read certain parts of the book and understand what Atwood was trying to say. I thought that many messages that Atwood conveyed throughout the book were valid. Much like Aldous Huxley’s writings in Brave New World, Atwood writes to remind us that the road our world is going down may present problems for us in the future. Once I really started getting into the book and understanding the deeper messages, I immediately connected The Handmaid’s Tale with 1984 and Brave New World. All three of these books have a lot in common. They all are controversial books that were written to warn us about the future of our world. When I finished the book I wasn’t surprised by the ending. Throughout the book it seemed as though it was leading up to something near the end so I was expecting a culmination of the events of the book at the end. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the book and I am more interested in reading more of Atwood’s novels.
(Leah Duncan)



(Leah Duncan)


(Shannon Nierman)



(Shannon Nierman)


(Leah Duncan)


(Leah Duncan)



(Shannon Nierman)