Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale


Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

This is a futuristic novel that takes place in northern USA
sometime in the beginning of the twenty-first century, in the
oppressive and totalitarian Republic of Gilead. The regime demands
high moral, retribution and a virtuous lifestyle. The Bible is the
guiding principle. As a result of the sexual freedom, free
abortion and a high increase of venereal diseases at the end of
the twentieth century, many women, (and men also, but that is
forbidden to say), are sterile. The women, who are still fertile,
are recruited as Handmaids, and their only mission in life is to
give birth to the offspring of their Commander, whose wife is

The main character in the book is Offred, one of these unfortunate
servants who's only right to exist depends on her ovaries
productivity. She lives with her commander and his wife in a
highly supervised centre.

Unlike men, women have been facing unique problems for centuries,
and often women experience harassment and discrimination. In
today's society, females are trying to combat their tribulations
through lawsuits and protest rallies. Literature often deals with
people being unable to articulate their problems. Often,
unforeseen circumstances force people to conceal their true
emotions. 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 cope
with her situation. She is trapped within a distopian society
comprised of a community riddled by despair. Though she is not
physically tortured, the overwhelming and ridiculously powerful
government mentally enslaves her. Offred lives in a horrific
society, which prevents her from being freed. Essentially, the
government enslaves her because she is a female, and she is
fertile. Offred's reminisces about the way life used to be by
remembering stories about her husband Luke, her daughter, and her
best friend Moira, provides her with temporary relief from her
binding situation. Also, Offred befriends the Commander's aide,
Nick. Offred longs to be with her husband and she feels that she
can find his love by being with Nick. She risks her life several
times just to be with Nick. Feeling loved by Nick gives her a
window of hope in her otherwise miserable life.

Instead of proclaiming her feelings out loud, she suppresses them.
The result is a series of recordings, which describes her life,
and the things she wishes she could change. Through these
examples, it is apparent that Offred cannot face her problems
because of outside circumstances.

Works such as "The Handmaid's Tale" deal with females being unable
to face their problems. Many 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 have had to contend with
other challenging and oppressing situations. Despite this, women
in modern society are becoming more powerful.

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