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Margaret Atwood's "The Age of Lead" (Book Review Sample)


This sample was a review of Margaret Atwood’s short story, The Age of Lead. The story uses two narratives to illustrate the self-destructive nature of mankind. One narrative is about Jane, the protagonist, who watches a television show about an anthropological discovery of a body in the North Pole. The body turns out to be of a member of the Franklin Expedition of 1845. It is then revealed that all the crew members of the Franklin expedition died of lead poisoning from the cans they used to store their food. The second narrative is based on Jane’s self-reflection of her life, mainly focused on her relationship with her friend Vincent who recently passed away. The essay drew parallels between the two narratives, which included the yearning for freedom and the self-destructive nature of human activities on earth.


The Age of Lead Review
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The Age of Lead Review
In Margaret Atwood’s short story “The Age of Lead”, the author uses two seemingly unrelated narratives to reveal the self-destructive nature of human beings, the consequences of mankind’s actions, the inevitability of death, and the illusion of freedom. One narrative is about a woman, the protagonist, Jane, watching a television show of an anthropological discovery about a man who died in the North Pole a century and a half ago. The body is still well preserved because it was buried in ice. The second narrative is about the protagonist’s reflection about the recent death of her best friend, Vincent, who died of a mystery illness. The author narrates the two analogies side by side. However, a relationship can be established between the two narratives. This paper discusses the link between the passages describing the dead body and the Franklin expedition with the rest of the story, and how they contribute to the meaning of the story.
“The Age of Lead” begins with Jane watching a TV show about the discovery of a body in the Arctic of a man whom scientists have established died one fifty years ago. The body is identified as that of John Torrington, a member of the team that comprised the Franklin Expedition in 1845. The team, led by John Franklin, was tasked with finding the Northwest Passage from England to India. The Northwest Passage would significantly reduce the distance English ships sailed from Europe to Asia, thereby reducing the transportation costs for goods and subsequently increase profits. However, the expedition was a disaster, as all the crew members died. Their skeletons were discovered ten years later in the Arctic but only for one that is the focus of this TV show. John Torrington’s body was buried in ice by the rest of the crew. Scientists have only recently discovered the cause of death of John Torrington and the rest of the crew – they all died of

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