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Discuss the presentation and importance of Moira and the narrator's mother in the novel 'The Handmaid's Tale'

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Beth Jackson Discuss the presentation and importance of Moira and the narrator's mother in the novel 'The Handmaid's Tale' In the novel ' The Handmaid's Tale' Margaret Atwood uses both the characters of Moira and the Handmaid's mother to give a real insight of the Gilead regime, women's roles in society and how these roles have changed over the years. Atwood uses these characters to present two extremes of the feminist view. The character of Moira is strongly individual and represents the ideal of friendship in the novel. Throughout the novel Moira is referred to both in nostalgic memories of the handmaid, but also as a main character who challenges the regime .She is portrayed in the handmaids memories as a rebel even before the Gilead regime began 'in her purple overalls, one dangly earring, the gold fingernail that she wore to be eccentric. She could be classed a modern women experimenting with her sexuality and campaigning for issues through her education papers on 'Date Rape'. Atwood uses the character of Moira to comment on a particular type of young feminists that were active in the 80's. ...read more.


The last view that Atwood lets us see of Moira working in Jezebel's brothel. This is where the reader is presented with the idea that in fact even the brightest and boldest characters can be worn down and the sheer irony of Moira's final occupation 'I'd like her to end with something daring and spectacular, some outrage, something that would befit her. But as far as I know that didn't happen'. Moira is one of the spirited feminist heroines, like Offred's mother Another major female character portrayed in the novel is Offred's mother. Atwood uses this character to symbolise and different type of feminism than the extreme feminism of Moira. Offreds mother symbolises the ideas of the Women's Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, campaigning for women's sexual and social freedom. Atwood presents her as a strong willed but lonely character that is set in her ways as a political activist. The character doesn't really appear in the present of the narrative only in the flash backs of Offred her daughter. Only much later does Offred learn that she has been condemned as an Unwoman and sent to the Colonies. ...read more.


Not that your father wasn't a nice guy and all, but he wasn't up to fatherhood. Not that I expected it of him. Just do the job, then you can bugger off, 1 said, I make a decent salary, I can afford day-care. So he went to the coast and sent Christmas cards. He had beautiful blue eyes though.' Atwood presents the character as an embarrassing but heroic figure. She is used by Atwood to display how easily ideas can be turned and changed 'Mother, I think. Wherever you may be. Can you hear me? You wanted a women's culture. Well, now there is one. It isn't what you meant, but it exists. Be thankful for small mercies'. Offred and the reader learn to admire Offreds mother's courage and to value her memory as a vital link with Offreds own lost identity. Atwood uses both the characters of Moira and the Handmaid's mother to highlight the actions of two individual women's whose very different private assertions become almost symbolic in the novel. Both characters show the importance of female roles such as mother, daughter and friend and how these roles effect the outcome of the narrator's life. ...read more.

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