Essay on The Importance of the Narrator of The Handmaid's Tale

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The Importance of the Narrator of The Handmaid's Tale


      The creation of Offred, the passive narrator of Margaret Atwood's

The Handmaid's Tale, was intentional.  The personality of the narrator in

this novel is almost as important as the task bestowed upon her.  Atwood

chooses an average women, appreciative of past times, who lacks imagination

and fervor, to contrast the typical feminist, represented in this novel by

her mother and her best friend, Moira.


      Atwood is writing for a specific audience, though through careful

examination, it can be determined that the intended audience is actually

the mass population.  Although particular groups may find The Handmaid's

Tale more enjoyable than others, the purpose of the novel is to enlighten

the general population, as opposed to being a source of entertainment.  A

specific group that may favor this novel is the women activists of the

1960's and 1970's.  This group, in which Offred's mother would be a member,

is sensitive to the censorship that women once faced and would show

interest to the "possible future" that could result.


      Offred is symbolic of "every woman".  She was conventional in prior

times, married with one daughter, a husband and a career.  She is

ambivalent to many things that may seem horrific to the reader.  On page 93,

Offred is witness to Janine's confession of being raped.  She doesn't

comment on how the blame is placed on Janine.  Is this because Offred has

begun to accept the words of Aunt Lydia, or more likely, is she silent to

create emphasis...

... middle of paper ...


reason - love.  Offred meets with the Commander for the things that

represent freedom to her; fashion magazines, silk stockings and lotion.

The Commander is simply emphasizing his sense of power.


      Offred achieves Margaret Atwood's purpose in The Handmaid's Tale.

She shows the possibility of a society, due to radical feminism and

conservative positions, where women are repressed.  This is both a

combination of past times and past movements, with a blending of

suppression and the dangers of a patriarchal society.  The negativity of

such a society is clearly evident, and through the scholarly dictation in

the "Historical Notes", the reader can comprehend the possibility of a

society.  Offred narrates in the expected manner with passiveness and

deliberate indifference.



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