Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that explores themes of oppression, resistance, and feminism. Set in a dystopian future where fertile women have become valuable commodities, the novel follows one handmaid named Offred as she struggles to survive in this cruel and oppressive society.
The novel is a nuanced exploration of the ways in which systems of power can be used to control and oppress individuals, and it serves as a cautionary tale about what could potentially happen if we do not resist these systems. Overall, The Handmaid’s Tale is an important work that should be read by all those who are interested in issues of gender, feminism, and social justice.
Atwood uses wordplay in this dystopian novel to reinforce themes and ideas and to create the implication of and foreshadow ideas without direct allusion to them. Atwood’s character Offred also uses wordplay to both remember her past and as a conscious resistance to her present.
The following essay will explore how Atwood uses wordplay in The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood opens The Handmaid’s Tale with the story of how the United States came to be the dystopian society it is in the novel. The narrator, Offred, tells us that there was a revolution and that the new government, The Republic of Gilead, was formed. The Republic of Gilead is a society that is based on Old Testament law. In this society, women are divided into classes based on their usefulness to society and their ability to bear children.
The class system is as follows: Wives, who are married to high-ranking men in the government; Marthas, who work in the household; Aunts, who train the new Handmaids; and finally, the Handmaids. The Handmaids are the only women in society who can bear children. They are given to high-ranking men, who impregnate them.
Atwood uses wordplay throughout The Handmaid’s Tale to create different levels of meaning. For example, the handmaids are named after the men they are assigned to. The name “Offred” means “of Fred”. In other words, she is a possession of Fred. This is just one example of how Atwood uses wordplay to create different levels of meaning in her novel.
Atwood also uses wordplay to create foreshadowing and implications without directly alluding to them. For example, when Offred is talking about her daughter, she says “I named her after my mother. It was the only rebellious thing I ever did.” (Atwood, p.14). The fact that Offred named her daughter after her mother implies that she does not approve of the society she lives in. This is an indirect way of Atwood criticizing the society she has created.
Offred also uses wordplay to remember her past and as a form of resistance to her present situation. For example, when Offred is talking about her father, she says “My father used to read to me…He would have been laughed at for it, but he liked doing it.” (Atwood, p.15). The fact that Offred’s father liked to read to her shows that he valued education and knowledge, two things that are not valued in the society she lives in. The fact that Offred remembers this about her father shows that she is resisting the brainwashing that the government is trying to do to her.
Atwood uses wordplay in The Handmaid’s Tale to create different levels of meaning. She uses it to create foreshadowing and implications without directly alluding to them. She also uses it as a form of resistance to the brainwashing that the government is trying to do to her. The following essay will explore how Atwood uses wordplay in The Handmaid’s Tale.
The novel is set in the former United States of America, now known as the Republic of Gilead. The country is engaged in both war and ethnic cleansing. The birth rate has fallen below zero replacement due to pollution and other reasons. Biblical and puritanical themes run throughout Gilead, with women’s roles based on biblical precedents. Rachael, mentioned above, is mirrored by the handmaids, who are held captive for the purpose of reproduction only. All single females whose ovaries are still viable are enslaved to a Commander for the sole purpose of procreation.
The protagonist, Offred, is a handmaid who is assigned to the home of Fred and Serena Joy Waterford. The couple are unable to conceive a child themselves and therefore Offred must have sex with the Commander in the hope that she will become pregnant. The novel focuses on Offred’s experiences as a handmaid and her efforts to survive and escape the Republic of Gilead.
Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been praised for its accurate portrayal of totalitarianism and its critique of the treatment of women in such societies. The novel has been banned in several countries due to its explicit sexual content and violence. However, it remains one of the most important works of dystopian fiction ever written. Whether you’re a fan of Margaret Atwood’s work or are simply interested in exploring dystopias, The Handmaid’s Tale is a must-read.
Atwood alludes to the function of the Handmaids early in the narrative: “Waste not, want not.” Why do I need it? Why am I being wasted if I am not being wasted? I’m not being wasted; why should I care? This statement implies that Offred is regarded as a possession rather than a person and creates suspense for the reader by building intrigue. It also hints at Offred’s dissatisfaction with her role.
The purpose of the handmaids is to bear children for the elite class in Gilead, a society that has been taken over by a totalitarian government. The handmaids are selected based on their ability to conceive and are forced to live in isolation with little contact with the outside world. The purpose of the handmaids is to bear children for the elite class, but they are also used as tools of propaganda.
The elite class wants to show that they are still successful despite the fall of society and the handmaids help them do that. The handmaids are kept in isolation so that they can be controlled and their fertility can be monitored. They are not allowed to read or write and their only contact with the outside world is through the government-sanctioned TV. The handmaids are forced to wear red dresses and white bonnets so that they will be easily identifiable and so that they will not be tempted to sin.
Throughout the book, there is a lot of sexual undercurrent, resulting in a 1984-like state where sex passion is repressed and only the powerful Commanders are allowed to procreate lawfully – with sexual energies redirected into hatred and war. In chapter four, Offred makes eye contact with a young Guardian. She contemplates violating the law by stroking his face in defiance of it: such possibilities are endless peepholes.
The Commanders are watching everything we do, but no one is looking through the peephole at this moment. The Guardians aren’t jealous of the Commander’s privilege to visit his Handmaid. The story also comments on rising fascism in society as well as climate change, with Offred describing The Rachel and other colonies for women who have committed crimes against the state.
The Handmaid’s Tale is an insightful look into a troubling dystopian world where reproductive rights are completely restricted and control is exerted over every aspect of life. Atwood has created a provocative novel that highlights some of today’s most pressing social issues while providing us with a thought-provoking glimpse into the future.