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How Effectively Does Atwood Present Offred's Struggle to Establish/Maintain Control Over Her Own Life/Identity

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Introduction

How Effectively Does Atwood Present Offred's Struggle to Establish/Maintain Control Over Her Own Life/Identity The Handmaids Tale is a woman's autobiographical narrative that challenges the absolute authority of Gilead, highlighting the significance of story telling as an act of resistance against oppression, thereby making a particular kind of individual political statement. Such as when Offred steals the butter from the dinner table to use as hand and face cream. " There's a pat of butter on the side of the plate. I tear off a corner of the paper napkin, wrap the butter in it, take it to the cupboard and slip it into the toe of my right shoe, from the extra pair, as I have done before. I crumple up the rest of the napkin: no one, surely, will bother to smooth it out, to check if any is missing. I will use the butter later tonight. It would not do, this evening, to smell of butter." Offred's freedom, however, is circumscribed and she cannot tell her story within Gileadean context. She can only tell it once she has escaped. ...read more.

Middle

It is here that we gain a sense of Offred as a powerful personal presence with a history. It is Offred's narrative voice transcribed into text, which situates her as an individual woman grounded in place and time, whose identity transcends that of her Handmaids role. Through the language she uses, rather than the events of the story she tells, Offred convinces us of her resistance to Gilead's values. Offred's outer life is very constricted and drained of emotion, but her inner life has a lyricism, which enable her to survive emotionally as well as physically in the stony soil of Gilead. There is a marked difference between the language she uses to record her muted everyday life, and the language of her real life of feeling and memory, which is expressed through a richly worked vocabulary of images. These register her entirely different perception of herself and her world from the one imposed by Gilead. We come to understand Offred's condition of double vision, for she continually sees and judges the present through her memories of the past. ...read more.

Conclusion

However the fact that no one knows her real name is a source that she can draw both power and identity from and only tell it to whom she wants, such as Nick. " My name is Kate" Apart from this, she has no real power as the Handmaids are lowest in the control of power in the woman world, behind the Wives and the Aunts who are both two separate groups. On a personal level Offred must resort to medial crime in order to gain her own power and self-dignity such as the incidences when she steals the butter to use as hand cream. In conclusion Atwood uses the various narrative techniques to effectively present Offred's struggle to control her own life. When Offred is depressed and seeming like giving up, which usually occurs at night when she has too much time to think, she flashbacks to remind herself of more pleasant memories of her daughter or Luke, for example, in the past. It is in these narrative techniques that we can truly understand Offred's character with such parts as her double vision, her ability to mix past and present. As she has no power hersef, she must draw it from these psychological abilities. Word count: 1,163 ...read more.

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