Compare and contrast Orwell and Atwood’s presentation Essay
Compare and contrast Orwell and Atwood’s presentation
Both Atwood and Orwell’s novels are based in a dystopian societies, a society of a negative and undesirable nature. The novels both alert us to the economic, political and social affects this dystopia has on a society and the characters. In both books there is an immediate contrast between the living standards of both characters and their immediate surroundings. In Gilliard, Offred is living in a clean, simple white room, “A chair, a table, a lamp. ” Using ellipsis and a simple asyndetic list, Atwood has represented the room through language. In Oceania however Winston is living in filth,
“… a swirl of gritty dust… ” Orwell appeals to the senses here for us to understand how he lives. These living conditions are in very stark contrast even though they live in societies that restrict them; their restrictions are in different ways. Winston does not have a clean living space and Offred has nothing to do in hers, the in-depth description of her room immediately shows us how bored she is already. As Offred is sent to Gilliard to produce a child for the commander and his wife, she is not allowed to have simple things like cigarettes, or even caffeine,
“I looked at the cigarette with longing. For me, like liquor and coffee, cigarettes re forbidden. ” In the dystopian society of Gilliard, desirable pleasures and possibly addictions, like smoking, are forbidden to the handmaids. However, Winston is able to smoke freely in his society, yet he is still placed under restriction by the fact these “luxury items” are under ration, “The new ration did not start till tomorrow and he had only four cigarettes left. ” These restrictions along with the strangling way of life for both societies result in Offred considering rebelling and Winston actually rebelling.
However, the consequences mean that for Offred she, “… can’t take the risk. ” The oppression of her society means that she has no voice and cannot say or ask what she wants to. She has no way of communicating with the other handmaids nor discussing the predicament she is in, something which we see could possibly drive her ‘mad’. In Oceania, Winston has already rebelled and keeps a diary, “To mark the paper was the decisive act. ” He is taking a huge risk here; if the thought police were to catch him doing this he would face death.
“He was already dead… ” His own thoughts against the government are wrong. In both Offred and Winston’s societies, language has been a way of oppressing them, but in different ways. In Gilliard, Offred isn’t able to speak as she wishes; she is often left saying things which is deemed as the “expected response”. “How I used to despise such talk. Now I long for it. ” Offred does not actually seem to have a truthful or even a full length conversation with anyone up to this point in the novel; she depends upon the trivial conversation to keep her sane.
On the other hand in Oceania, there is a whole new language called ‘newspeak’. This language was to make any ‘thought crime’ or alternative thinking impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom, rebellion and so on. In both novels dystopian society has moulded and warped the views of many young people. This is especially emphasised in Oceania where the children of the Parsons are willing to submit anyone to the thought police as long as they can rise through the ranks, possibly even their own parents. Their children are described as,
“… like tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters. ” This simile shows us how a vicious society has turned these children into; they have no family or moral values, only those to please their government. Slightly less prominent is the role of the guards in the Oceania; they are young men working for the government and eager to do their job well, “The young ones are often the most dangerous… ” This incident leads to read about a woman being shot by the guards but she was innocent, even the innocents in society suffer which we will see later on.
These submissive youths also have no idea of the past, a subject that leads for Winston and Offred to both suffer, but for different reasons. Offred we have so far learned through the stream of consciousness technique often finds herself thinking about her past and the people in it. However, we do not know as of yet who these people are, especially Luke. The past for her is not a nostalgic memory, “Such freedom now seems almost weightless. ” It just reminds her of how she used to be and how she is now.
Winston on the other hand can barely remember his past; he can remember vague visions of his mother, father and sister, “He must, he thought, have been ten or eleven years old when his mother disappeared. ” He does not know where his family went and probably never will. This suffering extends throughout both novels, under the regimes which are in place; everyone in society suffers, whether they know it or not, not only the main characters, and this may be the most prominent theme of dystopian societies.
Everyone is oppressed or brainwashed under this change in rule and culture, no one in neither ‘1984’ or ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is truly happy. In conclusion, Gilliard and Oceania have so far presented many problems being dystopian societies. They oppress those living in them; take away rights, individuality and freedom. Not only political but social restrictions have been emphasised in the two novels and most importantly how the characters are affected.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 July 2017
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