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Explore the way in which Margaret Atwood presents Moira 'The Handmaid's Tale'. Refer closely to any literary and linguistic approaches where necessary.

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Introduction

Explore the way in which Margaret Atwood presents Moira 'The Handmaid's Tale'. Refer closely to any literary and linguistic approaches where necessary. Within 'The Handmaid's Tale' Atwood presents us with many characters that are emotionally weak; Janine, Offred and even the Commander residing in the higher echelons of society all possess a deprivation of spirit brought about by the oppressive and restrictive nature of the Gileadean regime. In contrast to this we are presented with Moira and through her Atwood is able to create tension, conflict and a rebelliousness that is otherwise only seen in the recollections of Offred's mother. Moira acts as a representative for independence and liberty in the novel, she defies her oppressors and is seen by Offred as a role model that she finds impossible to aspire to. Moira constantly battles the status quo; she parades her lesbianism and manages on two occasions to defeat the system at the disgrace of the much-hated Aunts. She is confidant in both manner and speech. '"Don't move said Moira or I'll stick it all the way in"' The boldness of this imperative paired with the violent connotations attached to the verb 'stick' gives Moira the sinister tone she needs to intimidate Aunt Elizabeth. ...read more.

Middle

Moira is incredibly blas� throughout the novel; her nonchalance shows even in her response to working at Jezebel's which will lead to an impending death in the Colonies. '"You'd have three or four good years before your snatch wears out and they send you to the bone-yard."' The vulgarity of the expletive 'snatch' corresponding with the verb 'wears' describes the female body in a manufactured way, dispensable for male pleasure and just as easily disposed of. It is this taboo language that Atwood uses to familiarize us with Moira. Her reference to the Colonies as 'the bone-yard' is further evidence of Moira's ability to perceive things in a brutally realistic way. The fact that she is graphically aware of the inevitable doom she faces and does not react over- sentimentally show Moira's unwavering courage. When Offred reflect on her student life in 'the time before' we see that Moira's attitude to sex was then just as relaxed and liberal as it is under the Gileadean rule '"I'm giving an under-whore party...Tart's stuff, lace crotches, snap garters. Bras that push your tits up"' Here the three-part list indicates the casual attitude that Moira has towards sex, she is comfortable with her sexuality and her taboo language reflects this. ...read more.

Conclusion

the chance in Moira, the woman who, in times of need, Offred looked to as a source of hope has now become just like her, instead of embodying defiance Moira now embodies Gilead's ability to crush even the strongest of spirits. 'I don't want to be like her as far as something I lack. Give in, go along, save her skin...I want swash-buckling heroism from her, single handed combat. Something I lack.' This three-part syndetic list describes Offred who has romanticised and projected on to Moira the qualities she wished she possessed and is here, along with the reader, sorely mistaken. 'I don't know how she ended...because I never saw her again' What has happened to Moira is an anticlimax; we do not expect to be left unknowing, the novel now seems closer to real life than fiction and this brings the starkness of Offred's reality to the reader's attention. Moira's spiritual demise and erasure is an elaboration of the full force of oppression Margaret Atwood presents us with, once a courageous, outspoken woman has become a despondent pessimist with no hope of escaping Gilead. It is this change in Moira that makes us realise the true awfulness of the situation so many women in the novel are in. 1 Victoria Neale, 13LST ...read more.

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