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Handmaid's Tale - the character of Offred.

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Margaret Atwood?s novel The Handmaid?s Tale houses a very authentic range of characters, in a complex world. Set in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state, where a reproduction rate is rapidly decreasing, some women are labeled as handmaids and assigned to elite couples that have difficulty conceiving. The personality of one character in particular, however, may seem hasty and misunderstood at first glance. But given the circumstances, she proves to hold the values of humanity: she has her own set of opinions, flaws, and habits; has regrets; and a balance of courage and fear. Furthermore, the setting this character must survive in is not much different from today?s society. The government is deemed corrupt, fear of punishment is instilled, and the leaders ensure that the citizens adhere to the law. Finally, the aid and support that she receives, the faith and hope she has, and the development of friendships she makes also has a likeness to ordinary relationships in our world. Hence, the novel?s protagonist, Offred is a relatively relatable individual, especially in terms of her character, her surroundings and her supporting roles. Offred conveys a sense of reality in her personality as she is not perfect and has her own set of opinions, flaws, and habits. For instance, Offred has many moments and flashbacks where she reminisces about her past. ...read more.


To her, the government appears as corrupt as most governments in this world, and dictators still thrive, just as they do in Offred?s society. Offred responds to this by doing nothing, which would be the decision of most people if forced to live under these conditions. The leaders of Gilead, after all, employ obedient enforcers to make sure that citizens abide by their laws. She mentions this in the book when she retells how the changes in her nation started. She describes in full length that she, along with all women in the U.S., were forced from their jobs by men in uniform carrying machine guns ?Not fired, he said. Let go. You can?t work here anymore, it?s the law? (Atwood, 176). The fear of punishment is instilled, akin to the terrors of being imprisoned or given a death sentence in our world. Penalties are dreaded so much in Gilead, for most of the time they are unjustly given out and they vary from hanging to ?Salvaging?; which is being beaten to death ? The three bodies hang there, even with the white sacks over their heads looking curiously stretched, like chickens strung up by the necks in a meat shop window; like births with their wings clipped, like flightless births, wrecked angels? (Atwood, 277). Offred ultimately responds passively, on account of this fear, and because liberal ways are shunned in Gilead. ...read more.


Faith is introduced to Offred when she acknowledges the pillow in her room with the word ?faith? printed on it ?There?s a hard cushion on it, with a petit point cover: FAITH, in square print surrounded by a wealth of lilies? (Atwood, 57). The fact that it is something she can read implies that there is still hope, as not everything has been taken away from her. This knowledge strengthens her belief that change will come, though subconsciously since Offred never mentions it. The faith that she puts into the Commander also ties into the trust she gives him when playing games, reading magazines and when he brings her to Jezebel?s ?He wanted me to play Scrabble with him?, ?He sits me down, and sits himself down beside me. He puts an arm around my shoulder? (Atwood, 144, 236). Trust is a very common issue that people have trouble giving out. But in examining these elements it is clear Offred?s confidantes have impacted her life and how they make her into a real character. The Handmaid?s Tale is appealing due to its main character, Offred, who shows a great deal of realism in a world of impossibilities. Her character itself is strong-willed, but moderate, and is the perfect mix of what it is to be human. Through her, many of the readers can see a bit of themselves in Offred. She is an excellent example of how a regular person would behave if they were thrust into the world of The Handmaid?s Tale. ...read more.

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