Female Rebellion in Handmaid's Tale

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İrem Özekes 11K                 11.10.11


In the Handmaid’s Tale, due to the oppression of patriarchal system in the society, women’s rights are held back. The restriction on woman rights thematized in the novel actually can represent the current perspective to woman rights in real World. The novel is written to display that women should be more active to gain their rights. Atwood employs different female characters in order to embody the aspects of feminism.  To be able to gain their rights, female characters in the novel rebel against to the Giledian society with different means. Moira and Offred being the lead female characters in the novel, revolt against to the society, which they are obliged to live in.  

        Being the narrator of the novel, Offred primarily shows her rebellion against Gilead society. Deprived of reading, writing, proper communication, technology etc., she tapes cassettes for the whole story. Despite the highly hazards of having caught while taping casettes, which is not mentioned in the novel at all, by giving the basis of the novel, Offred’s rebellion is brought out. Through Offred’s narration, flashbacks of her former life are conveyed. By the flashbacks, she can actually get out of boring and constraining system of Gilead society. Offred says, “What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth ... Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be” (Chapter 24) implying that her individualism is not lost within the harsh and brutal regulations of her new life. She emphasizes not to be deprived of her character, even though the new system categorizes people in accordance with their functions and brutally eliminates any piece of individuality. Inspite of her accepting attitude towards her duty at the beginning of the book, Offred note worthily changes in the following chapters of the book. She breaks the rules by seeing Commander every night as well as playing Scrabble, using hand lotion, reading magazines. What she does with Commander is all prohibited within the framework of her duty as a Handmaid. Her duty only requires giving birth to the Household that she is assigned and shopping. However, she tears down the wall of her limited framework by her secret meetings with Commander. In addition to her meetings with Commander, she also meets Nick, her affair, who tries to get Offred pregnant. Offred’s sexual encounters with Nick play an important role to fulfill the revolt of Offred in the novel. These encounters are primarily related with love, which is unbeknownst to the Gilead society, thus enhancing Offred’s rebellion more complete.  With her transition from being a passive character to an active character,  Offred’s rebellion is solidified.

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Moira is the only character who stands up against the restraints of the Gileadean regime which prohibits much of what her former life based on: Gay rights and freedom of speech. She has disposition to rebel against Gileadian system with her being an open lesbian and contribution to the activities in Gay Rights movement before the establishment of Gilead. In the novel, even though she is brought to the Red Center to serve as a Handmaid, no information about who she serves to is given. Since she never becomes a Handmaid in fact her position in the book highly ...

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