The Handmaid's Tale/1984 OCR Dystopia Discussion Thread Watch

Connor27
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Hi there, just thought I'd create this for all those out there doing OCR A-Level Lit; specifically the dystopian Literature paper.

Post the books you're studying below and what you think so far.

Personally I'm doing 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and '1984' by Orwell.

We haven't started studying 1984 in detail yet but I'm really enjoying THT; the historical notes at the end are an amazing twist of the plot and help paint the entire thing in a different light. The various contextual references to culture, history and religion are everywhere, some of the more subtle ones are really clever, like the words Offred makes when playing scrabble and how they relate to Gileadan society.
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QueenBrooke
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I am currently studying The Handmaid's Tale and, whilst others in my class haven't finished the book, I sped through it in a couple of days! It is honestly one of the best books I've ever read, and I'm really glad to be studying it. Silly me, I only just read the Historical Notes today, originally thinking that they concerned contextual knowledge. Little did I know...

I read 1984 before I started Sixth Form and unfortunately we are not studying it. It is an amazing book and was one of Atwood's greatest influences for writing The Handmaid's Tale.
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Connor27
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(Original post by QueenBrooke)
I am currently studying The Handmaid's Tale and, whilst others in my class haven't finished the book, I sped through it in a couple of days! It is honestly one of the best books I've ever read, and I'm really glad to be studying it. Silly me, I only just read the Historical Notes today, originally thinking that they concerned contextual knowledge. Little did I know...

I read 1984 before I started Sixth Form and unfortunately we are not studying it. It is an amazing book and was one of Atwood's greatest influences for writing The Handmaid's Tale.
Yeah, I made the same mistake at first, it took my english teacher reading through them in class for us to realise!

I suppose it represents this idea that totalitarian states never last in the long term and that there's always a brighter future ahead, despite Piexeto making those crude jokes about "tales" etc etc.

The one thing that really annoyed me about it was that we never find out Offred's real name; I think that's really sad and adds to the emotional value of the plot.
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QueenBrooke
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(Original post by Connor27)
Yeah, I made the same mistake at first, it took my english teacher reading through them in class for us to realise!

I suppose it represents this idea that totalitarian states never last in the long term and that there's always a brighter future ahead, despite Piexeto making those crude jokes about "tales" etc etc.

The one thing that really annoyed me about it was that we never find out Offred's real name; I think that's really sad and adds to the emotional value of the plot.
Yeah, it really takes away to personal connection between the reader and Offred. I have read a few things which suggest that her name is June. At the end of the first chapter, Offred refers to, 'Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June.' All of these women, except from June, we hear about throughout the novel. Seeing as June is never mentioned again, and that it is the last name mentioned, suggests that Offred is actually June. However, it could just be that Offred never meets June again in the book. I like the idea, though.
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wordsandroses
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I'm doing both handmaid's tale and 1984 for my Alevel. I had my first lesson today and I'm really glad I am! Any helpful tips?
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Connor27
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(Original post by wordsandroses)
I'm doing both handmaid's tale and 1984 for my Alevel. I had my first lesson today and I'm really glad I am! Any helpful tips?
I'd probably advise you to do lots of contextual reading; particularly relating to historical context; as that is where a lot of the marks come from. I assume you are doing OCR? In which case there are various "optional texts" you can cite in the exams as well alongside THT and 1984; may I recommend 'Brave New World' by Huxley? I think you'll find it fits with both books like a glove and is great for comparing and contrasting in essays.

If you do history, politics or sociology A-Levels as well as Literature; you'll find a lot of the content you study there is helpful in the dystopia essays because it's all so relevant to context.
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bellabloom12
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Hey do you know what the questions for Handmaids tale and 1984 was last yesr for 2017 A-Level exam?
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Connor27
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(Original post by bellabloom12)
Hey do you know what the questions for Handmaids tale and 1984 was last yesr for 2017 A-Level exam?
I am in year 13 now, the exam will not be released from 2017 for a few months yet so I don’t really know, sorry.
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lizzieandrews
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does anyone have any example questions for the contextual and comparison study question?
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