Thesis Project The handmaid’s tale. Haley Parent and Molly Kelly UCT 1011: Writing Through Literature Period D November 4, 2010. Thesis.
Haley Parent and Molly Kelly
UCT 1011: Writing Through Literature Period D
November 4, 2010
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, female characters struggle to maintain their identities in the oppressive Gilead society that forces them to conform to stereotypical female roles; the protagonist Offred rises above the conformity in both her obvious and subversive actions.
“We play two games. Larynx, I spell. Valence. Quince. Zygote. I hold the glossy counters with their smooth edges, finger the letters. The feeling is voluptuous. This is freedom, an eyeblink of it. Limp, I spell. Gorge. What a luxury. The counters are like candies, made of peppermint, cool like that. Humbugs, those were called. I would like to put them into my mouth. They would taste also of lime. The letter C. Crisp, slightly acid on the tongue, delicious.” (Atwood 139)
“I look at the one red smile. The red of the smile is the same as the red of the tulips in Serena Joy’s garden, towards the base of the flowers where they are beginning to heal. The red is the same but there is no connection. Te tulips are not tulips of blood, the red smiles are not flowers, neither thing makes a comment on the other. The tulip is not a reason for disbelief in the hanged man, or vice versa. Each thing is valid and really there. It is through a field of such valid objects that I must pick my way, every day and in every way. I put a lot of effort into making such distinctions. I need to make them. I need to be very clear, in my own mind.” (33)
“Yet, although Offred cannot be considered a more obvious traditional hero like Moira, an examination of her more subtle rebellion against the oppressive totalitarian regime which governs her life illustrates the indefatigable nature of the human spirit.” (Novels for Students, Vomume 4, 127)
The main idea of this criticism is that Offred is a successful character; although not as outrageous as Moira in her obvious rebellion, her blatant defiances as well as her subversive rebellion enable her to rise about the totalitarian Gilead and escape the conformity. This literary criticism is useful because it states the success of Offred’s obvious and subversive actions, especially her success in defying the totalitarian Gilead society through mental methodology.