- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Smargaret Atwood's Thirty Years of Experience Help Her Value the Importance of Language, Not only as a Writer, but Also as a Human.

Essay by   •  November 15, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,056 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,051 Views

Essay Preview: Smargaret Atwood's Thirty Years of Experience Help Her Value the Importance of Language, Not only as a Writer, but Also as a Human.

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

Many commend Margaret Atwood for her ability of depicting individual and worldly troubles of universal concern (Study Guide). Over thirty years, Atwood has written more than twenty volumes of verse, novels, and nonfiction. Although she is noted for all of these volumes, she is better known for her novels. In these work of fiction, themes such as feminism, mythology and power of language pervade. Margaret Atwood's immense talent for conveying the importance language through her characters can be seen in her writings such as The Handmaid's Tale.

Margaret Atwood was born on November 18, 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario. Much of her childhood was spent in northern Quebec with her father, who was doing research as an entomologist. These experiences in her early years provided material for later writings (Stein, 200). After graduating high school, Atwood attended the University of Toronto. It was at this university that she met the literary analyst Northrop Fry, who influenced her greatly (McHenry). She also studied Victorian literature in Cambridge at Radcliffe College and at Harvard. At the age of nineteen, she made her debut with a collection of poems called Double Persephone.

After her first publication, Atwood made a name for herself. Over the past three decades, she has written numerous works of poetry, nonfiction and fiction, including children's books, and short stories. Her writing often focuses on feminist issues and concerns, which she examines through multiple genres such as science fiction, Southern Ontario Gothic, comedy, and the ghost story (Davidson, 25). She continues to thrive as an author today that is known for her feministic themes in such novels as The Edible Woman and The Handmaid's Tale (Stein, 193). She currently lives with the writer Graeme Gibson and their daughter on a farm in Ontario (McHenry). Her most recent works of nonfiction include Negotiating With The Dead and Oryx & Crake.

Throughout her career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and several honorary degrees. These awards include the Canadian Governor General's Award, Le Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature. The Margaret Atwood society is an international association of scholars, teachers and students who share an interest in Atwood's work (Atwood). The main goal of the Society is to promote scholarly exchange of the writer's work by providing opportunities for scholars to exchange information (Atwood).

Through the characters of one of Atwood's best-known novels, The Handmaid's Tale, her concept of language, politics, power and creativity can be seen (Davidson, 26). This grim novel is set somewhere in the not so far future. After a military overthrow in the United States, a fundamentalist state called Gilead has come into power. The subjects of this new society are constantly watched and kept silent from fear. Those who do not conform after being chastised are tortured and killed.

Under this society, women are forbidden from magazines, newspapers and books. Access to such practices is acceptable for men. Since free communication no longer exists, Atwood stresses the importance of language that is easily taken for granted. Atwood's concern with language is natural as an author. According to Atwood, the way an individual uses and understands language depends strongly on what she calls "cultural relativity", or a person's cultural, social and personal background (Stein, 200-201).

In this novel, language is a strong device for the characters to express themselves (Atwood). Offred, the main character, had language constantly used against her through restraint and limitations (Atwood). The idea of language as a tool of power is one of the themes of this novel. Another theme, or fundamental idea explored in a literary work, is that of women's bodies as political instruments (Brians). In Gilead, women were only valuable if they were fertile.



Download as:   txt (6.4 Kb)   pdf (93.3 Kb)   docx (11.3 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on