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The Handmaid's Tale - short summary

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Introduction

ISU Essay The Handmaid's Tale The novel The Handmaid's Tale written by Margret Atwood is about how the government chose to control the way the community was run and control the lives of men and women. The novel tells the story from the perspective of a middle-aged woman named Offred who questions society's accepted beliefs and conventions. Offred is a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead who is constantly questioning the government beliefs and rules. Her character pushes the limits set out by the government. This is thoroughly illustrated through her defiance of against the social conventions, her methods of challenging them and the final outcome of her challenge. Firstly, Offred challenges many laws within The Handmaid's Tale including socializing with the commander and Nick, and being in the sitting room. Handmaids are a class who are not to socialize with the commander; Offred explains, "It's forbidden for us to be alone with the commanders" (Atwood 128). ...read more.

Middle

Secondly, the novel indicates that Offred breaks many laws by spending time alone with the commanders and her presence in the sitting room with Nick. Offred visits with the commander and plays scrabble with him. "'I'd like you to play a game of Scrabble with me.' he says" (Atwood 130). In playing scrabble she breaks the law against handmaids spending independent time with commanders without the supervision of the wife. One night she heads down into the sitting room to do something rebellious. She has the thought of stealing. "In the wood at midnight, magic flower. A withered daffodil...with daffodils will soon be thrown out" (Atwood 92). Shortly after Nick interrupts her. He puts his hand on my arm, pulls me against him, his mouth on mine, what else comes from such denial? Without a word. Both of us shaking, how I'd like to. ...read more.

Conclusion

Who knows where they are or what their names are now? They might as well be nowhere, as I am for them. (Atwood 97) The friendship she gains with the commander affects her in powerful ways, she begins to feel differently about herself. "I am thirty-three years old. I have brown hair. I stand five seven without shoes. I have trouble remembering what I used to look like. I have viable ovaries. I have one more chance...Circumstances have altered" (Atwood 135). It is shown that her actions cause her confusion and she is in a state where she had begun to have hope. In conclusion, the author Margret Atwood follows the pattern of fictional novels with The Handmaid's Tale by having the main character, Offred, constantly questioning the social beliefs and conventions in the Republic of Gilead. Offred's want for a better life is illustrated through her challenges against the social standards, her methods of testing them and the final outcome of her defiance. Sarah Driscoll January 17, 2005 ...read more.

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