The Handmaid’s Tale

Topics: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood, Science fiction Pages: 3 (1046 words) Published: June 10, 2012
Question: Analyse how Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale imaginatively portrays individuals who challenge the established values of their time. Texts are not created in isolation. They are reflective of the values, attitudes and beliefs present in their compositional milieu. Margaret Atwood’s critically acclaimed novel The Handmaid’s Tale (1986) narrates the story of Offred, a woman who is forced to become a Handmaid and bear children for elite couples that have problems conceiving. The character of Offred successfully illustrates the isolated nature of Handmaids, through the depiction of the protagonist as an oppressed being who is emotionally and physically detached from the world. Through the narration of Offred’s thoughts, the novel explores the various acts of rebellion against the accepted views of society. The novel offers a strongly feminist vision of dystopia and oppression through the eyes of the protagonist, representing the restricted freedoms and various sacrifices of the Handmaids. Well-developed characters such as Moira, Offred’s mother and Ofglen are seen to directly challenge the established views of their time, whilst the rebellion of Offred is represented subtly through her thoughts. These subversive acts against conventional views effectively demonstrate the weaknesses of the accepted principles of their respective times. The story is set in the near future, in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that is founded on the beliefs of the Bible. “Give me children, or else I die.” Through the perspective of Offred, the novel contrasts the role of women in pre-Gilead and Gileadean times. The oppression and deprivation of women in regards to the various rights achieved in previous generations is highlighted in the society of Gilead, broadening the inequalities between men and women. The Gileadean regime instructs the forbiddance of voting rights for women, rights over jobs and property and reading. Basically, women are...
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