Margaret Atwood, The Handmaids Tale Analysis on: Chapter XIV Salvaging

Authors Avatar

Laure Pigeon


Margaret Atwood, The Handmaids Tale

Analysis on: Chapter XIV Salvaging

Margaret Atwood's creation of the dystopian society of Gilead in The Handmaids Tale, is definitely one in which the Government attempts to control every aspect of people's public and private lives. As the plot   progresses, Offred - the protagonist and narrator of the novel - dissects how, through numerous methods, this power is exerted on the society. Dystopias are societies where ideology has taken priority over the well-being of the people within that society, and as these dramatic changes implemented by Gilead are non-beneficial for the vast majority of the characters, many of them inevitably rebel. Atwood's formation of Gilead serves as a warning to what could take place in the near future.

On the other hand with Atwood’s ability to make Offred’s character evolve through out the story, the reader is able to witness a very different kind of resistance against the tyrannical regime of Gilead that can be called love. Through out the chapter XIV Salvaging, a new relationship is established and many links between the men that Offred had in her life can be made, which will develop to become predominant thoughts for her survival.

For a brief time, The Handmaid's Tale unexpectedly becomes a “love story”. Offred's affair with Nick is an odd development largely because it demonstrates several major changes in Offred's character that have gone on almost entirely beneath the surface of the novel. Her actions seem to demonstrate that she has abandoned her belief in the possibility of escape, her faith that Luke might still be alive somewhere, and her prayer that someday the new regime will come to an end. This "letting go" is somewhat tragic, for Offred's belief in the possibility of change seems to be the only thing holding her together as a person, and may be the only thing standing between her and suicide. At the same time, by initiating an affair with Nick, Offred has done a far braver thing than one might expect her to have done: the kindling of love in that hidden room is the greatest possible strike against the regime of Gilead.

Join now!

Offred's affair with Nick is the third in a series of affairs. Twice, Offred has consciously "stolen" a man from another woman, though with the Commander she did not have much choice in the matter. Nick, however, is stolen from no one. Her actions are illicit in the context of the regime, but romantic in the reader's eyes. Thus, her affair with Nick is a reminder that sex united with love does not belong in the same category as sex in the absence of love. Offred and Nick's relationship clarifies the viewpoint of the novel in that it suggests that ...

This is a preview of the whole essay