Gender In The Handmaid's Tale

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Women have fought hard throughout history to gain equal rights, but is it possible for everything they have worked for to be ripped away? This situation is a very real one in Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood introduces a world where women are nothing more than tools. She published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986 (Callaway 5), but Atwood’s writing career began in 1961 when she published Double Presephone. Over the course of her writing career, Atwood wrote twelve novels, six children books, sixteen poetry collections, eight short fiction collections, and five major non-fiction books (1). The Handmaid’s Tale was her first full satire. Satires were generally gendered as male styles, but Atwood made it common practice for her to …show more content…
Offred serves as more of a victim in the novel than a hero. She ends up relying on other women or men to fight back. She herself is afraid of resistance and risking her life. In fact, her name can be examined and if one says it carefully, the name Offred sounds similar to afraid. It is also very similar to the word offered, which is symbolic because Offred offered stories of heroism in her story, but all of them were stories of other characters because she was afraid to act (Cooke 125). One could consider her weak in comparison with the other females in the story. Her mother fought for equal rights for women before Gilead existed, and she tried to get Offred to have the same interest and understand the importance of their freedom. However, Offred took advantage of the freedom she had before and did not realize its importance until it was taken away from her, and her mother was banished from Gilead (Pettersson 11). Another strong female character in the novel is Moria, who was Offred’s close friend post-Gilead. During the cruel handmaid training, Moria revolted and escaped, but she was later captured and punished (12). A third heroic women was Offred’s shopping parter, Ofglen who she had to walk to town with. Ofglen was a part of the resistance and tried to include Offred in it, but her fear of punishment was too strong. Ofglen risked her life for change, and she ended up having to kill herself to prevent capture (11). While Offred did not take part in rebellious actions, she did survive and found freedom by relying on these women and male characters in the story

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