Anaphora In The Handmaid's Tale By Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a dystopian novel set in a future America. In it, a woman named Offred is a Handmaid in a republic called Gilead. Offred—whose name stems of-FRED--is one of many fertile women forced to carry the children of their masters in order to make up for declining births in the years past. With her old life erased, Offred finds herself provided for with daily necessities: a conservative red habit, daily bread, and a suicide-proof room to stay in. Provided with this new identity, Offred struggles to maintain hold on her old one throughout the book, catching glimpses of her daughter and husband, longing for her old belongings, and eventually developing an appreciation for who she is. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood …show more content…
This is evident when, Offred is alone in her room and all she “can hear now is the sound of my own heart, opening and closing, opening and closing, opening” (147). Atwood’s use of anaphora when repeating the phrase “opening and closing” generates an image of the valves of the heart pumping blood. It also carries a metaphorical meaning—that of opening one’s heart. This is supported by Atwood’s decision to leave the line without punctuation, ending with “opening.” The lack of a period leaves the sentence “open,” further stressing this concept. This conveys the narrator’s awareness of living, for she observes the subtle thump of her own heartbeat and appreciates it. Another moment where Offred’s self-appreciation is clear is when Offred says, “I hunger to commit the act of touch” (11). The diction of the word “hunger” suggests that the basic action of touch is something that Offred must sate. Hunger is the urge to consume something, usually food, in order to preserve a person’s health. Thus, Atwood is communicating that “touch” is essential for Offred’s living. Furthermore, Atwood’s choice to use “commit” as the verb conveys a negative connotation to the line—a criminal one. This has the effect of developing the reader’s sense of defiance in Offred, for she would risk her security to please her longing to “touch.”
The dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale allows Atwood to create a haunting world for her characters, one that is infused with the toxic effluvium of oppression. However, despite this, the author is able to grant her protagonist clarity on what should truly be valued in

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