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Critique of Orientalism and the "Knowledge" in the Last Chapter of "The Story of the Oriental Maid"

2020-06-04 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Report范文

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下面为大家整理一篇优秀的essay代写范文 -- Critique of Orientalism and the "Knowledge" in the Last Chapter of "The Story of the Oriental Maid",文章讲述《女仆的故事》是玛格丽特·阿特伍德(Margaret Atwood)着名的小说。小说中的所有细节都确实发生在历史上。因此,这不是科幻小说,而是未来的小说。引起我们注意的是,作者以对学者的讨论作为对小说的总结,作者对奥弗雷德的故事作了自己的解释,这暗示了作者的一些意图。而且,这些评论对学者有一些个人偏见,这将使我们对自己的阅读习惯有所启发。本文将在上述几个方面讨论《女仆的故事》。

 

Critique of Orientalism and the "Knowledge" in the Last Chapter of "The Story of the Oriental Maid"

Abstract

The Handmaid’s Tale is a famous novel written by Margaret Atwood. All the details in the novel have really happened in the history. So it is a not science fiction, but a future novel. What catches our attention is that the author concludes the novel with a discussion of scholars offering their own interpretations of Offred’s tale, which suggest the author’s some intentions. What’s more, these comments have some personal prejudice of the scholars, which would give us some enlightenment about our own reading practices. This essay will discuss The Handmaid’s Tale in the several aspects mentioned above.

Key wordsfuture novel; Offred; comments; reading practice

1. Brief introduction to The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood is a prolific writer and versatile social critic, Canadian novelist and poet. She has recently published Bluebeard’s Egg (short stories), Interlunar (poetry), and The Handmaid’s Tale a critically acclaimed best-selling novel. The furthest time The Handmaid’s Tale described is 2050 and the novel as said is written in 2195, therefore it is describing the things happen over 200 years later. The author Margaret Atwood set the background in Massachusetts of the USA and she created a new country The Republic of Gilead in the novel. In 2050, cruel authoritarian regimes are dominant in Gilead. The novel descried what a handmaid had suffered at that time. Through the voices in a tape, the readers got a vision of what Offred had gone through. She descended to a handmaid and fortunately she escaped finally. In the novel, Offred told her own experiences in the early 21st century and there is also many memory and reflections of Offred about the 1980s.

The novel told a story of Gilead which was founded after a coup in the 20th century of the USA in first personnel. The rapid ecological deterioration resulted in sterility of elite class in men. The current government was replaced by extremists and the country turned into a totalitarian state which was controlled by men. The original intention of Gilead is above criticism; they just wanted to build a better society. But in the real process of implementation, the potentates followed the Bible strictly, and they thought that as long as they believed in god and did things as God had instructed they could solve all the difficulties and conflicts humans were facing. These measures are anti-science, anti-nature and anti-human. Governing people in totalitarian with religion resulted in people’s suffering, especially women’s suffering. Handmaids represented by Offred had no dignity and status in that society and they descended to the tool of giving birth to children. The country was in white terror.

2. What Atwood suggested in the final part of The Handmaid’s Tale

The historical notes in the final part suggest that the things written in the novel. the future and the whole novel is retelling what has happened in the “past”. And the novel used flashback of time. Because there is no hint about the time in the beginning of the novel, readers have no feeling that these things are happening in the future. In fact, things happened in the novel have some time distance with the reality. And in this kind of writing, the author also didn’t used traditional writing skill, which is narrating things as the turn they happened. Instead, the happening time was replaced by the chronological order of the characters. What’s more, primary tenses are used frequently in the novel, which gave the readers a sense that these things are happening now as if the narrator is facing us telling a story. The whole story has no limitations on time and space, it make the “past” as the future and make some adjustments in future and reality in order to highlight the mental activities of the characters, which increased sense of reality of the novel.

Karen Warren held the opinion that there was important relation between prosecution of women and control of nature and this relation is historic, symbolic and political. However, by reading the novel in detail and consulting some historical records we can find that the identification of women and nature is specious in The Handmaid’s Tale. The author didn’t blame the miserable fate for ecological deterioration. And she also didn’t make the improvement of ecological environment as the reason why women’s status improved. However, it is obviously that there are relations between ecological environment and women, and the author concerns about women and ecology.

Warren attested in Ecofeminist Philosophy A Western Per spective on What It Is and Why It Matters that in all kinds of polluted environments, generally women often have to bear more risks than men. Greta Gaard pointed out that many writers had found that women and children are the first hurt by poisonous insecticide, chemical waste, acid rain and other contaminant, and women’s fertility often are badly influenced by these pollutant.

As usual, if women are severely hurt in a polluted environment, the suffering should decrease if the environment is improved. This is our common thought. But in the final part, the author created the “12th Gilead Research Symposium of 2195”. The academic conference is held in Nunavut of Canada where the environment is very good without pollution. The preventatives of conference had a nature walk. But to the readers’ surprise, in such a society with good environment, peoples’ opinions about women has not changed at all. Darey Pieixoto insulted women in Gilead in his report and the audience just smiled when they heard those words. Darey verified the truth of the story and therefore decided whether the story could be taken as historical evidence. In other words, he didn’t care about moral significance of story at all. Offred said in the novel that the future could not be seen and she predicted that she would be ignored when the history of Gilead is written. No one will pay for such a totalitarian politics and no one would hear a handmaid’s story. The final part of Pieixoto’s report goes that when people have a look at Offred, she will disappear, which suggest that Offred’s story can not be taken as historical evidence. Here we can see that Offred had a right prediction of her story and the society——she will be ignored. As to the problem of ecology, we can find that Atwood suggest in the final part that women’s fate are still not improved after the environment is proved. It is too simple to attribute all the factors that polluted nature to differentiation of women and men. Also in the novel, patriarchy society where men are dominant prosecuted women and ecological risks occurred because of people’s abuse using of science. These living tragedies are reflections of our current situations. Therefore, the author is giving warnings to us to protect our environment and pay more attention to women’s rights.

3. What the comments suggest about our own reading practices.

A. Get a better understanding of the novel with a consideration of the writing skills. The Handmaid’s Tale created ecological disasters in the future through the skill of anti-utopia, which gave warning to humans that we should pay attention to and protect the environment. We make some measures to protect the earth which we are living on, and do our best to save the nature. This kind of novel is called ecological early warning novel, or ecological anti-utopia novel.

As some future novels, The Handmaid’s Tale describes what has happened, but to us the “past” in it is the future. Therefore, the things told in the novel belong to the future and it is touchable, which means in some day it may become a fact. The foundation and feature of future novels is that they are telling what will happen in the future if things develop in the current trend. These novels can give humans some warnings and make us reflect about our behaviors. The trend may be positive or negative. If it is positive, the society will become a Utopia, which is very good and happy as people imagined in their mind. But if the trend is negative and things happen in the current way, the future society will become an anti-utopia one where politics and economy is in a mass and there is no justice and democracy. With a comprehensive examination of The Handmaid’s Tale, we can find that we can not difine it simply as utopia or anti-utopia. This novel is a mirror of our era and it contains much things than we can get.

Historical notes are the final part of the whole novel, which is concluded with Professor James Darcy Pieixoto’s comments. According to the practice, he asked “Are there any questions?”, which is the final sentence of the whole novel. The question remained in our mind and reader’s thought will not stop with the finish of the novel. A question will evoke readers’ reflection and consideration of the plots and Offred’s experiences. This open ending can give the readers a variety of imagination. So in our reading, we should remember a famous saying that A hundred readers have a hundred Hamlets. We should understand the novel in different angels and do not define it in a certain category.

B. Analyze the novel according to the writing and social background. We can deeply understand the theme conveying in it by the author and her real intentions behind the words only though the writing and social background. For any novel, the plots and themes are closely related to the background, which have deep influence on the author’s writing experience and his or her intensions.

When Atwood was writing this novel, the second wave of feminism in North America was happening. The author criticized severely ultra-right Fundam entalist Christianity and also the second wave of feminism in North America because the second wave was too extreme and it resulted in nervous relations between men and women. When special situations like extreme ecological deterioration as described in the novel occur, fertility risks and social imbalance appear. In this situation, ultra-right forces found their excuses of persecuting women. They raised the flag of protecting women, but in fact they prosecuted women and made them suffer. Based on this, this kind of activities could do no help to women’s liberation but put barriers in the process of women’s liberation. At the same time, the story happened in 2050 and in a country with extremely deteriorated ecology, therefore in our reading; we should not only pay attention to the current ecological environment but also find that such reform plans will not work with the consideration of ecological deterioration as the cause of religious and social reform. We should reflect about feminism and religious activities. From these we can see that ecology and women are related by the author, and they have no real relations fundamentally and it is not the theme of the whole novel. Therefore, in our reading, we should take the backgrounds into consideration and we can get a better understanding of the novel.

We should appreciate the skill of creating suspense in the novel, which is also the reason why the novel is appealing to us. Many circumstances were obscure when some characters appeared. Therefore the readers become curious about what would happen next, which leads them to read and find the answers. For example, the mysterious Latin word appeared in the ninth chapter, but the readers cannot find its answer until they come up to the 29th chapter. Nick’s identity is not clear in the beginning and the readers cannot tell whether he is a good man or not. While in the final chapter the real identity of Nick turned out. And the readers cannot find many answers until they come to the final chapter when they will get a whole understanding of the story. In our reading, we should try to appreciate such kind of writing skill.  On the other hand, we can find that there are seven chapters with the theme of night. We should consider why the author did it, maybe night symbolizes the mood of Offred which is as dark as night without any light. Various kinds of knowledge is contained in this novel, such as medical science, literary, art, history, economy, electronics, biology, anthropology, genetics, psychology and acoustics . We should try to relate this knowledge with the plots of the story and get a better understanding of it.

4. Conclusion

Although The Handmaid’s Tale is a future novel, it has various themes which are of practical significance. It describes the prosecution dictatorship regime did to people. Dictatorship regime also killed humanity and touched some problems which have attentions of modern society, such as environment and pollution. This novel is of great practical significance. In the novel, some words in the Bible are quoted. Especially, some names are the same with the characters in Bible. In this way, this classic about religion and literary are closely related with the fiction, which gave a vivid description of extremists’ enthusiasm of religion. On the other hand, there are many new words created in the novel by the author. Since the novel is a future one, the era it described must be with computers. So the author made some new words by making up some abbreviations.

   A feature of this novel is that it is concluded with some scholars making comments about the story. Of course there are biases in the comments and it suggested that women’s fate had not improved after ecology was improved. The author is also warning us to protect the environment since now and women’s rights should be respected. An open question in the end of the novel evokes reflections of readers. In our reading, we should try to relate the words and the backgrounds with the plots and Offred’s fate, and try to understand the novel from different perspectives. After reading this novel, we can get a new view of our current society.

 

References:

[1] AtwoodMargaretThe Handmaid's Tale [M ]New YorkAnchor Books,1986

[2] WarrenKaren JEcofeminist Philosophy: A Western per-spective on What It Is and Why It Matters [M ]LanhamM D Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.2000

[3] Greta Claire GaardEcofe inism WomenAnimalsNaturePhiladelphia Temple Univer-Sity Press 199 3 1 —13

 

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