The Importance Of Love In The Handmaid's Tale

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The old adage “be careful what you wish for” is never a pleasant proverb to receive; associated with a time in which you strive for something that you come to realize is not actually what you want. The unforeseen consequences bring about a resulting feeling of foolishness and frustration, leaving a naïve impression on one’s sentiments. Yet, the intuitive reaction is denial. Denying that what you longed for is not what you thought it was. Finding any sort of reason to justify what you were yearning for. This is just the case for Serena Joy in Margaret Atwood’s, “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Serena spent much of her Pre-Gilead life as a spokeswoman for the anti-feminism principles that Gilead’s oppressive society was founded on. Now, her aspirations …show more content…
Serena, on the other hand, does quite contrary. Instead, she seems to focus on the negatives in her life, and lashes her frustration out on women beneath her in Gilead’s society. In her first interaction with Offred, Serena makes clear “I want to see as little of you as possible”, belittling her with comments like “I know you aren’t stupid”, and, “Don’t call me ma’am…You’re not a Martha” (15). Serena’s behavior towards Offred is an example of her egocentrism. She shows little compassion for others, focusing on her own individual hardships rather than acknowledging the struggles of other women in Gilead. She goes on to warn Offred, “As for my husband…he’s just that. My husband. I want that to be perfectly clear” (16). The manner in which she treats Offred implies she sees Offred as a risk to the stability of her relationship with the commander. Serena is visibly lacking a level of self-esteem that would prevent her from treating Offred like a threat, and instead recognizing the common struggle against oppression Serena and Offred share. Ultimately, Serena conducts herself in a hostile manner towards Offred as a representation of her own personal issues, as if Offred is a human punching bag for Serena to release her frustration on. Unfortunately, in Gilead, Offred is forced to take Serena’s emotional …show more content…
In a society where women are essentially deprived of any power, Serena’s status as the commander’s wife is the only form of influence she has. As a result, it is seen throughout the novel that Serena seems to latch on to her status to justify her condescending behavior towards others. Individually, Serena actually treats Offred far crueler than any of the men of Gilead. For Gilead’s oppressive society to be prolonged, there needs to be obedience from not only the men, but also the women being oppressed. Although she may not recognize it, her barbed attitude towards Offred is just compounding the social problem that is attributing to her sorrow. Later in the novel, as Serena enters the sitting room prior to the ceremony, Offred ponders where to (or where not to) sit, noting “kneeling, near the chair…Where Serena Joy will shortly enthrone herself…Possibly she’ll put a hand on my shoulder, to steady herself, as if I’m a piece of furniture. She’s done it before” (79). A lot can be learned from the conversations Offred has within the safety of her own thoughts about her feelings towards Serena. Offred’s use of the word “enthrone” suggests she recognizes that Serena believes she is superior to others. Not to mention, the comment could be interpreted as a curious metaphor. Serena’s distress is a consequence of the

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