The Handmaids Tale

The Handmaids Tale In Margaret Atwoods, The Handmaids Tale, our eyes are open to an oppressive society of which seems to be the near future. Widespread sterility has led to the rich controlling young women of childbearing age, who are called “handmaidens”. The tale is narrated by Kate, also known as “Offred”, her handmaid name. She relates her struggle throughout in the most vivid of ways. The struggle around her: the oppressive Republic of Gilead, and the struggle within herself: her effort to maintain her sanity. Her narration is tainted with one main motive, which is her relentless pursuit for the past. The way things used to be things that were so basic to her. Moreover, it is her strive to regain the freedom she has been stripped of which guides her. It is her light at the end of a tunnel she has involuntarily been placed.

In the republic of Gilead, women are categorized as Wives, Marthas, Aunts and Handmaids. The latter is considered to be the most valuable of their resources, for they are able to bear children. This society uses a systematic approach to produce offspring, in other words, for the republic to grow. The commanders, top- ranking officials of Gilead, are the wives husbands. Every so often, “ceremonies” are held where the Commander would attempt to impregnate the handmaid.

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If successful, the child was claimed by the wives as theirs. The handmaid was not more than a means to an end result. Violation of the norms was not tolerated. The punishment in the most cases was death, which also served as an example to the handmaids. Thus conformity with the rules was a necessity to stay alive, something she questioned if it was worth or not.

In the end, Kate is accused of attending Jezebels with the Commander. Jezebels can be described as a getaway within the republic. A gathering of people who are there to socialize. Something Kate had been deprived from. In the final moments of her tale, as she sees guards come for her arrest (or so she thought) she contemplates suicide as an alternative for her demise.

It was an option she highly welcomed for she rather give up her life than her sanity and her freedom. The guards who took her over came in with Nick (the driver), a character who played a positive role in her stay. They hop in the van. Destination: Unknown. In the end, Atwood leaves up in the air the outcome of Kates removal. More likely than not, it is a positive one hinted by Nick appearance in the end. Aside from the story one can find the underlying theme to be one that is not defined with one word. It is the idea of us taking such a basic right as freedom, in its many forms, for granted.

Many at times, the only time we acknowledge what we have is when it is taken from us. In addition, another thematic issue notable to mention is the classification or categorization of the female gender. In the story, the women carry on a label, which goes in accordance to the roles they play in this fictitious society. We must consider ourselves very fortunate for not living in a real-life Gilead. Nevertheless, the genre of this novel is not fantasy but rather fiction and thus implying this can actually occur.

We must then recognize the problems that Atwood was trying to point out. The relationship between Gilead and our society is the fact that gender does play a major factor on the way we are expected to behave. Not drastically, such as in the novel but enough to coerce us to conduct ourselves distinctively and play the assigned role of our gender.

The Handmaids Tale

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s TaleThis is a futuristic novel that takes place in northern USAsometime in the beginning of the twenty-first century, in the oppressive and totalitarian Republic of Gilead. The regime demandshigh moral, retribution and a virtuous lifestyle. The Bible is theguiding principle. As a result of the sexual freedom, freeabortion and a high increase of venereal diseases at the end ofthe twentieth century, many women, (and men also, but that isforbidden to say), are sterile. The women, who are still fertile,are recruited as Handmaids, and their only mission in life is togive birth to the offspring of their Commander, whose wife isinfertile.The main character in the book is Offred, one of these unfortunateservants who’s only right to exist depends on her ovariesproductivity. She lives with her commander and his wife in ahighly supervised centre.Unlike men, women have been facing unique problems for centuries,and often women experience harassment and discrimination. Intoday’s society, females are trying to combat their tribulationsthrough lawsuits and protest rallies. Literature often deals withpeople being unable to articulate their problems. Often,unforeseen circumstances force people to conceal their trueemotions. In “The Handmaid’s Tale” the main female characters find ways to escape their situations rather than deal with them.Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale uses different tactics to copewith her situation. She is trapped within a distopian societycomprised of a community riddled by despair. Though she is notphysically tortured, the overwhelming and ridiculously powerful government mentally enslaves her. Offred lives in a horrificsociety, which prevents her from being freed. Essentially, thegovernment enslaves her because she is a female, and she isfertile. Offred’s reminisces about the way life used to be byremembering stories about her husband Luke, her daughter, and herbest friend Moira, provides her with temporary relief from herbinding situation. Also, Offred befriends the Commander’s aide,Nick. Offred longs to be with her husband and she feels that shecan find his love by being with Nick. She risks her life severaltimes just to be with Nick. Feeling loved by Nick gives her a window of hope in her otherwise miserable life.

Unlike men, women have been facing unique problems for centuries. Oftentimes, women experience harassment and discrimination. In today’s society,females are trying to combat their tribulations through law suits andprotest rallies. Literature often deals with people being unable toarticulate their problems. Often, unforeseen circumstances force people toconceal their true emotions. In “Raise the Red Lantern”, The Handmaid’sTale, and “A Doll’s House”, the main female characters find ways to escapetheir situations rather than deal with them.

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Lastly, Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale uses different tactics to copewith her situation. Offred, the main character of the novel, is trappedwithin a distopian society comprised of a community riddled by despair.Though she is not physically tortured, she is mentally enslaved by theoverwhelming and ridiculously powerful government. First off, Offredreminisces about the way life used to be by remembering stories about Luke,her husband, Moira, her best friend, and her daughter. As mentionedearlier, Offred lives in a horrific society which prevents her from beingfreed. Essentially, the government enslaves Offred because she’s a female,and she’s fertile. Remembering stories of the past provide her with temporary relief from her binding situation. Also, Offred befriends the Commander’s aide, Nick. Offred longs to be loved by her husband, and shefeels that she can find that love by being with Nick. Offred risks her lifeseveral times just to be with Nick. Feeling loved by Nick gives Offred awindow of hope in her otherwise dismal life. Finally, instead ofproclaiming her feelings out loud, she suppresses her feelings. The resultis a series of recordings which depict her life and the things she wishesshe could change. Through these examples, it is apparent that Offred cannotface her problems because of outside circumstances. Works such as “Raise the Red Lantern”, The Handmaid’s Tale, and “ADoll’s House” deal with females being unable to face their problems. Aplethora of authors have written on this subject matter. Though some problems are unavoidable, one can overcome certain situations by being more assertive. Along with male domination and the laws of society, women havehad to contend with other challenging and oppressing situations. Yetdespite this, women in modern society are becoming more powerful.