Handmaids Tale By Atwood Essay Research Paper

Handmaids Tale By Atwood Essay, Research Paper

The creation of Offred, the passive narrator of Margaret Atwood?s The

Handmaid?s Tale, was intentional. The personality of the narrator in this

novel is almost as important as the task bestowed upon her. Atwood chooses an

average women, appreciative of past times, who lacks imagination and fervor, to

contrast the typical feminist, represented in this novel by her mother and her

best friend, Moira. Atwood is writing for a specific audience, though through

careful examination, it can be determined that the intended audience is actually

the mass population. Although particular groups may find The Handmaid?s Tale

more enjoyable than others, the purpose of the novel is to enlighten the general

population, as opposed to being a source of entertainment. A specific group that

may favor this novel is the women activists of the 1960’s and 1970’s. This

group, in which Offred?s mother would be a member, is sensitive to the

censorship that women once faced and would show interest to the ?possible

future? that could result. Offred is symbolic of ?every woman?. She was

conventional in prior times, married with one daughter, a husband and a career.

She is ambivalent to many things that may seem horrific to the reader. On page

93, Offred is witness to Janine?s confession of being raped. She doesn?t

comment on how the blame is placed on Janine. Is this because Offred has begun

to accept the words of Aunt Lydia, or more likely, is she silent to create

emphasis on the horrific deed? The answer is easily satisfied when the reader

finishes the novel. Offred must realize the injustices if she feels compelled to

reveal her story on the tapes. She must grasp the importance of conveying the

atrocities that were executed during the Gileadian area. Offred is

representative of an average women also because she has experienced no great

traumas. She isn?t just ambivalent because of her tendencies but because she

has been abruptly interjected into a new society. She is stunned and almost

numb. She barely shows signs of life. She doesn?t think there is any use to

have a sense of hope. She thinks of the woman in ?her? room before her. Her

strong sense of life did nothing to help her earn her freedom. She received

nothing from her quiet rebellions. Offred is also obviously the perfect narrator

because she is a handmaiden. In this new system, almost a caste system, the role

of being a handmaiden is not only of great importance, but is also considerably

better than other positions, such as an ?unwoman?, who cleans toxic waste in

the Colonies. Because Offred is characterized as passive, and mostly compliant,

she is not as much in danger as other characters. Moira, her friend from college

and the previous life, is dynamic and full of life. She doesn?t want to be

held back, and her resistence causes her both trouble and distress. Janine,

another character, is a ?brown-noser? who uses flattery and praise to

achieve a virtually impossible level of hierarchy with the Aunts among her

peers. She has to sacrifice self-worth, though, and her admittance of fault in

being raped is disgusting. The tense that Atwood uses is relative to the

narrator also. The shifts from present to past are frequent. When an author

causes the narrator to use past tense, the reader can generally conclude that

the narrator knows the end of the story. This builds a sense of suspense. Using

present tense allows images in the story to be more solid and realistic,

compared to past life. Not all shifts in tense are used for the same reason.

When Offred is ?speaking? of Luke, she can?t decide if she is in love with

him, or if she was in love with him. Offred gradually reveals the story, which

we are to eventually discover is on tape. Atwood elects to use leisurely

disclosure in order to make the conclusion of the story more believable. The

?Historical Notes? chapter causes the reader to re-examine the book, both

mentally and manually. As the reader recalls the jumble of thoughts, the

bouncing back and forth between the present and the past, and the narrator?s

decisions to withhold certain details, they understand the possibility, though

unlikeliness, that this could actually happen. Contrasts are important aspects

in the narration of this novel. The obvious contrasts are between other

characters, such as between Offred and Moira. There also are the images of past

life that Offred creates. These contrast to the new institution of Gilead.

Examples of the contrast are the women?s rights rallies. Offred would attend

with her mother and also Offred?s smoking habit. Offred?s memories are

characterized with a sense of longing and contrast with Offred?s calm tone

throughout the story. Atwood chose Offred also because of the slight

transformation of Offred. Her perception of self and her sexuality has changed

considerably. Offred had once had an affair with Luke before their marriage.

This can be compared to the meetings that the Commander and Offred have, yet

there is obvious discrepancy. When Offred used to meet Luke, there was one sole

reason ? love. Offred meets with the Commander for the things that represent

freedom to her; fashion magazines, silk stockings and lotion. The Commander is

simply emphasizing his sense of power. Offred achieves Margaret Atwood?s

purpose in The Handmaid?s Tale. She shows the possibility of a society, due to

radical feminism and conservative positions, where women are repressed. This is

both a combination of past times and past movements, with a blending of

suppression and the dangers of a patriarchal society. The negativity of such a

society is clearly evident, and through the scholarly dictation in the

?Historical Notes?, the reader can comprehend the possibility of a society.

Offred narrates in the expected manner with passiveness and deliberate




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