The Handmaid's Tale and Beloved: Slavery vs. Freedom

Topics: Slavery in the United States, The Handmaid's Tale, Slavery Pages: 3 (1046 words) Published: April 25, 2007
Both The Handmaid's Tale and Beloved are stories about slavery: escape from slavery and the effect slavery has on people. In The Handmaid's Tale, the protagonist, Offred, tells the reader of her experience as a reproductive slave in a society that no longer exists. Beloved gives the reader a look at what life is like for a "free" slave, from the point of view of its main characters through a series of flashbacks. While both stories have two completely different premises, they have far more similarities than they have differences. The similarities in these books impart a strong message to the reader about freedom. In The Handmaid's Tale, Offred lives in a society, known as Gilead. The entire society lives in a type of slavery forced upon them by their countries new government. "It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency." (Atwood 174) Both men and women were confined to stringent, nonsensical rules designed to make, what they considered, a better life. Although there were not many options for living a different life, there was some choice in live they way they lived. Women could choose to live in the colonies. "Once, though, I heard Rita say to Cora that she wouldn't debase herself like that. Nobody asking you, Cora said. Anyways, what could you do, supposing? Go to the Colonies, Rita said. They have the choice.

With the Unwomen, and starve to death and Lord knows what all?" (10) The threat of being shipped to the colonies as a form of punishment however, makes this option less appealing and the ultimate consequence of noncompliance is death. Offred's narration of her experience moves between different times and places without any warning to the reader. Her story is told to the reader, fragmented, through a series of audio recordings she makes recounting her experience after she has escaped. The tapes, according to the text, were found in a metal footlocker. (301)...

Cited: Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid 's Tale. New York: Anchor Books, 1998.
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.
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