Margaret Atwood Questions and Answers

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In "Getrude Talks Back," how does the author Margaret Atwood use literary techniques to create humor while conveying a thematic message?

Atwood uses literary techniques such as indirect characterization and irony to create humor and to convey the thematic message that women are just as capable as men, that women know their own minds, and that men ought to keep their opinions about women's lives and choices to themselves.

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Atwood uses indirect characterization of Gertrude to portray her as a funny, modern, discerning, and determined woman. Indirect characterization occurs when the author allows readers to come to conclusions about the traits a certain character possesses by allowing us to hear what she says and see what she does. For example, Gertrude says to her son, Hamlet, "I am not wringing my hands. I'm drying my nails." In other words, she is not worrying herself over her dead husband or her disapproving son; instead, she is giving herself a manicure because she likes it. Further, she says that she knows her...

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