• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Margaret Atwood section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Margaret Atwood essays

  1. Compare and contrast the narrative structures in 'White Teeth' and 'Beloved' and how the ...

    This same theory is used in the novel 'Beloved' that is used in 'White Teeth'. Past events hold the key to what happens in the present. However, the narrative structure of the novel is looser than that seen in 'White Teeth' with time almost 'flowing' from present to the past.

  2. How does Atwood present the Commander in Chapter 15?

    Atwood again, describes the Commander as a 'shoemaker in an old fairytale book', she asks another rhetorical question to make the reader think again about the impression of the Commander: 'Is there no end to his disguises, of benevolence?' Atwood then uses language to evoke sympathy for the Commander, 'To be a man, watched by women.

  1. Offred's Narrative - What is the purpose and function of the 'Historical Notes' and ...

    I don't fully believe this comment here, I don't feel he understands Offred at all, he is not concerned with her as an individual nor the content of narrative or the motivation behind it to get her story out there for people to hear the ways women lived in fear

  2. Compare the ways in which narrative perspectives vary in 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' and ...

    Finally, Ackroyd also includes an entirely neutral narrative technique where the speech is dictated by a play-like script, showing a realistic conversation in full, without any bias. These techniques are different from 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', where we are influenced by the author's third person narrative throughout the novel but Fowles does adopt different roles as the narrator.

  1. In What Ways Does Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, and Atwood's The Handmaids Tale explore ...

    "Birth day" is placed in the middle of the novel. This was done to show that the Handmaids and the entire Gileadean society are based on conceiving and giving birth and to allow women to "...fulfil their biological destinies in peace".

  2. Discuss how aspects of control are explored in

    I knew they made that up and they left things out too, but there was no way of checking". Ironically, women are forbidden access to the Bible, portraying women as victims as they can no longer challenge their exploitation. Wyndham demonstrates a similar abuse of religion in "The Chrysalids".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work