A Canadian and feminist writer, Margaret Atwood is internationally acclaimed as an accomplished novelist, poet, short story writer, and literary commentator. Presented as the eyewitness recollections of its entrapped heroine, the novel vividly displays the dehumanizing effects of ideological rhetoric, biological reductionism, and linguistic manipulation.
The new regime, the Republic of Gilead, moves quickly to consolidate its power, including overtaking all pre-existing religious groups, including traditional Christian denominations, and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical model of Old Testament -inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes.
For example, women are forbidden to read, and anyone caught in homosexual acts would be hanged for "gender treachery". The story is told in the first person by a woman called Offred. The character is one of a class of women with healthy reproductive systems, in an era of declining birth rates owing to increasing infertility.
These women are forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class and are known as "handmaids", based on the biblical story of Rachel and her handmaid Bilhah.
Offred describes her life during her third assignment as a handmaid, in this case to Fred Waterford referred to as "The Commander". Interspersed with her narratives of her present-day experiences are flashback discussions of her life from before and during the beginning of the revolution, when she finds she has lost all autonomy to her husband, their failed attempt to escape to Canada, and finally her indoctrination into life as a handmaid by government-trained women called "Aunts".
The women are physically segregated by colour of clothing—blue, red, green, striped and white—to signify social class and assigned position, ranked highest to lowest. Striped clothing is for all other women called "Econowives" who essentially do everything in the domestic sphere.
Young, unmarried girls are dressed in white. The Commander is a high-ranking official in Gilead. Although his contact with Offred is supposed to be limited to "the ceremony", a ritual of rape intended to result in conception and at which his wife is present, he begins an illegal relationship with Offred.
The room is filled with books and is considered a private place for the man of the house. During these meetings, he tries to earn her trust by talking and playing board games such as Scrabble with her.
He also lets and watches her read, another offense, as women are not permitted to read and write. The Commander offers her contraband products, such as old s fashion magazines and cosmetics. The women in the brothels are allowed alcohol and drugs, a freedom Offred notes.
Serena is clearly bored and unhappy—that she was taken at her word, Offred assumes—and hates sharing her husband with a handmaid. In return, Serena Joy gives her news of her daughter and a recent photo. Offred has not seen her child since she and her family were captured trying to escape Gilead.
Offred discovers she enjoys sex with him, despite her indoctrination and her memories of her husband.
She shares potentially dangerous information about her past with him. Through her shopping partner, a woman called Ofglen, Offred learns of the Mayday resistance, an underground network working to overthrow the Republic of Gilead.
As the novel concludes, Offred tells Nick that she thinks she is pregnant. Shortly afterwards, she is taken away by men wearing the uniform of the secret police, the Eyes of God, known informally as "the Eyes".
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As she is led to a waiting van, Nick tells her to trust him and go with the men. It is unclear whether the men are actually Eyes, or members of the Mayday resistance.
Offred is unsure if Nick is a member of Mayday or an Eye posing as one, and is unsure if leaving will result in her escape or her capture. She enters the van with her future uncertain.
The novel concludes with a metafictional epilogue that explains that the events of the novel occurred shortly after the beginning of what is called "the Gilead Period". The epilogue is "a partial transcript of the proceedings of the Twelfth Symposium on Gileadean Studies" written in and hosted by Professor Maryann Crescent Moon.
The epilogue also suggests that, following the collapse of the theonomic Republic of Gilead, a more equal society re-emerged — though not the United States that had previously existed — with a restoration of full rights for women and freedom of religion.
Offred[ edit ] Offred is the protagonist and narrator. She was labeled a "wanton woman" when Gilead was established because she had married a man who was divorced.
All divorces were nullified by the new government, meaning her husband was now considered still married to his first wife, making Offred an adulteress. In trying to escape Gilead, she was separated from her husband and daughter. Proved fertile, she is considered an important commodity and has been placed as a handmaid in the home of the Commander Fred Waterford and his wife Serena Joy, to bear a child for them Serena Joy is believed to be infertile.
In the novel, Offred says that she is not a concubine, but a tool; a "two legged womb". The women in training to be handmaids whisper names across their beds at night. The names are "Alma.The Handmaid’s Tale is a rich, brilliant novel, not least because there is no clear moral path one can negotiate through it.
This is one of the reasons why I’ve found the impulse of some to treat it as a warning or call to action in the face of current threats to women’s rights both simplistic and inaccurate.
> I want to emphasize how proud I am of (some parts of) America right now. “Pride in yourself is a vein emotion,” Tom said sanguinely. Hagar in Genesis. This is a summary of the account of Hagar from Genesis 16 and Hagar and Abraham. Hagar was the Egyptian slave of Sarah, Abraham's wife.
Sarah had been barren for a long time and sought a way to fulfill God's promise to Abraham that Abraham would be father of many nations, especially since they were getting older, so she offered Hagar to Abraham as a second wife.
Apr 13, · The media can be fickle, however. The Handmaid’s Tale has become an oft-studied and -cited modern classic, but its initial reception didn’t necessarily foretell its induction into the canon.
A summary of Motifs in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Handmaid’s Tale and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans.
A review of The Handmaid’s Tale season two finale, which wraps up a good but frustrating season. How much longer can the Hulu series avoid the problems that plague dystopian shows like The.