Compare and contrast the presentation Essay
Compare and contrast the presentation
In both 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale the past is constantly being made aware by the main characters in the novels, Winston and Offred. They struggle to live with the memories of the past, significant change since and their life compared to then and now. However Winston and Offred have different degrees in remembering the past, this is displayed through different techniques and language used. Winston uses dreams in 1984 to sub-consciously remember his past, he can picture particular imagery in his dreams, “Winston remembered especially the very thin soles of his father’s shoes.
” But cannot remember what exactly happened to his mother, father and sister. We do not know if they were killed or taken away, “… when his mother had disappeared. ” The use of the word “disappeared” leaves not only us but Winston in limbo as to what happened to his family, it is distressing for Winston to not know exactly how or if they were killed. In his dreams Winston also appears to know that his sister and mother both sacrificed their lives for him but cannot remember exactly how and this guilt plagues him,
“His mother’s memory tore at his heart because she had died loving him, when he was too young and selfish to love her in return… ” The chance he had to acknowledge this selfless act has been taken away from him and could explain why he wants to know more of the past but is unable to do so in the society he lives in. However, the dreams Winston has are not always as troubling as the one above from this dream. Directly from the dream mentioned above he is, “… standing on short springy turf, on a summer evening when the slanting rays of the sun gilded the ground.
” This dream is much more pleasant than the other, with the imagery of a summer evening and the sun providing a short break from the bleakness in Oceania. This dream is still problematic for Winston however, he does not know if it was a real event or a dream. Ironically, the knowledge of the past Winston desires for he spends destroying and ‘re-touching’ in his job. He is a clerk for the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to rewrite historical documents so that they match the current party line, this involves re-writing newspaper articles and re-touching photos.
“He who controls the past, controls the future. ” This is a party slogan and is one of the most poignant quotes, Winston does just this daily yet doesn’t want to. Offred’s past is constantly present throughout HMT and is used through the technique stream of consciousness. She connects things that she sees or smells in present day to those of the past and very early on in the novel she talks of her garden, “I once had a garden. I can remember the smell of the turned earth, the plump shapes of bulbs held in the hands… ”
This is in contrast to Winston’s past as she is sure of what hers is; the potent imagery used takes Offred back into her past and disconnects her from the present – something which she desires frequently. Offred also thinks of her past with Luke and her child, these fond memories also remind her of how she took life for granted, “How were we to know we were happy? ” Offred now craves even the simplest material things, she feels she has wasted her time in places e. g. hotel rooms and not even taken notice of the di?? cor, things to entertain her mind.
Her regret of taking things for granted is often mentioned in the novel through things we often taken for granted to, “The smell of nail polish has made me hungry. ” A simple cosmetic is now forbidden in her society yet she, and we, use it on a daily basis and have a readily supply. In both novels there are material objects which act as motifs and symbols of the past for Offred and Winston. In HMT Offred is given magazines from the past, by the Commander, which are now forbidden in Gilead, “I wanted it with a force that made the ends of my fingers ache. ”
This is again another example of the regret Offred has for not appreciating the little things she had in the past, and also an example of an object from the past which Offred would have read regularly but has no access to. In this instance another character is also affected by the past, the Commander. “Some of us, he said, retain an appreciation for the old things. ” The Commander should not like the way women were in the past, he is part of the patriarchal group that set up Gilead in the first place to prevent women from having careers and being their own person.
Yet he also has a love for the past, like Winston. He enjoyed women being women, looking feminine. The material object used to represent the past in 1984 has a more influential placing in the novel. A paperweight, bought in the prole district by Winston, is his way of trying to rekindle his connection with the past. “That’s what I like about it. It’s a little chunk of history that they’ve forgotten to alter. It’s a message from a hundred years ago, if one knew how to read it” Symbolically, when Winston is arrested by the Thought Police the paperweight is smashed into tiny little pieces.
This foreshadows later events when Winston is actually tortured into believing the same way as the party, and forgetting his urge to know more of the past. In conclusion the past in both 1984 and HMT are represented through dreams and flashbacks for both the main characters. This representation is seen constantly throughout the novel and we are reminded that the past holds memories, however minor, for both characters. Both Winston and Offred have lost the past and seem unable to get it back, even though they long for it.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 11 July 2017
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