Role of Offred's Room in a Handmaid's Tale

In: English and Literature

Submitted By jen19991
Words 1488
Pages 6
In the novel A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood uses different descriptions of Offred’s room to illustrate the government’s control over her and her role in the society. She uses the room to allude to her situation almost because she is unable to explicitly state her discontent with her current conditions. Firstly, the author uses many similes, symbols and short sentence structures to emphasise the oppression and the totality of the control that the government has over Offred. She uses different objects in the room to symbolise Offred’s situation. While exploring her room, the narrator notices that “on the white ceiling… [there is] a blank space, plastered over, like the place in a face where the eye has been taken out.” (9) She also finds that “[the window] only opens partly” (9). The author uses the simile which compares the ceiling to a face without eyes, a result of the chandelier having been violently removed, to mirror how Offred is forced to be “blind” to the world. The government forces handmaids to wear wings around their face to prevent them from seeing and being seen. Offred and other handmaids thus cannot communicate and familiarise themselves with the world. They are powerless because they have no knowledge of the world; they cannot defend themselves against an unknown entity. The narrator uses this simile to imply that she is forced into being oblivious to her surroundings. Similarly, the author uses the window in Offred’s room as a symbol for her contact with the world, because the window is the only opening in her room to the outside environment. By saying that the window opens only partly, the author is suggesting that Offred has very limited contact with the world. Later on the narrator states that “[I would] like to be able to open the window as wide as it could go” (72). This reflects Offred’s desire to communicate with the world, an…...

Similar Documents

To What Extent Does the Handmaid’s Tale Present the Future as a Feminine Dystopia?

...To what extent does The Handmaid’s Tale present the future as a feminine dystopia? A feminine dystopia imagines a world gone terribly wrong, exploring the most extreme possible consequences of current society’s problems. In a feminine dystopia, the inequality of society or oppression of women is exaggerated or intensified to highlight the need for change in contemporary society. The Handmaid’s Tale presents the future as this in many ways. Chapter 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale presents the future as a feminine dystopia. Religion is brought up as Gilead is seen to be trying to purify the values of women, for example Offred is only allowed a single bed, the words “nothing takes place in the bed but sleep; or no sleep” highlight the fact that a bed is only for sleeping, to purify her. The reference to nunneries also suggests there is religion involved in Gilead, Offred states that “time here is measured by bells, as once in nunneries. As in nunneries too, there are few mirrors” this suggests sexual contact for the Handmaids, or anyone, is forbidden, and the use of the word “once” suggests that Offred is like a nun, or feels like a nun, out of a nunnery and in a house. Also in chapter 2, the role of the Handmaids is introduced; we learn they are needed for something very important, as they are not allowed to attempt to kill themselves as it is said that “they’ve removed anything you could tie a rope to.” Also Offred says “I am not being wasted.” This shows that the Handmaids are......

Words: 1501 - Pages: 7

How Far Do You Agree with the View ‘That Women Do Not Possess Innate Maternal Desires’? Compare and Contrast the Presentation of Motherhood in Top Girls with Atwood’s Presentation of Motherhood in the Handmaid’s Tale

...How far do you agree with the view ‘that women do not possess innate maternal desires’? Compare and contrast the presentation of motherhood in Top Girls with Atwood’s presentation of motherhood in The Handmaid’s Tale It could be argued that women possess innate maternal desires, however some would argue that women are socialised by their environment to be maternal. Churchill’s feminist play ‘Top Girls’ explores the idea of natural maternal instincts through characters such as Joyce and historical figures Lady Nijo and Patient Griselda. ‘Top Girls’ is set during Thatcher’s government and explores the role of motherhood, with an all female cast Churchill uses theatre of alienation and characterisation to constantly keep the audience aware that the play is not realistic, this technique is done purposely so the audience focus less on the plot and more on the political and social issues. Similar to the play, feminist author Atwood explores ideas of motherhood and how women treat each other within society through her cautionary tale; The Handmaid’s Tale, the fictive autobiographic novel presents characters such as Offred, Ofwarren and Serena Joy who all share problems with maternal identity. Most of the women presented in the texts have a desire to be a mother yet the societies they live within prevent them from successfully realising this desire. Top Girls is set in 1979 at the end of the decade and the beginning of Thatcher’s tenure. Marlene is representative of all of......

Words: 1769 - Pages: 8

Handmaid's Tale

...you’re assigned a room number when we get there. He says. Despite the fear I was in, I nodded. Nick lied to me; these people weren’t Mayday, their “The Eyes”. Why would nick do this? This is something I will never know, it’s too late to do anything about it. After what seems to be two hours the van finally comes to a stop. I was expecting the worse to come. The double doors open, they take me by the elbows once again to help me out, it seemed to be around dawn time. There were about five buildings labeled with numbers. They lead me to building number two; there were other handmaids that look like they were captured by the eye. Entering the building I felt anxiety, I questioned myself what was going to happen to me? Does this mean I go straight to the colonies? Am I going to be tortured? Instead they put me in a waiting room for now. Minutes later a woman steps into the room. You’re another one of them that just don’t listen. You’re assigned room 220. She said. I nodded. She took me to my room and closed the door. The room smells of mothballs, or is that odor death. I sat on the bed observing the room, there was a window cracked open. I thought to myself this will be a perfect opportunity to escape. Before of the attempt of escaping I searched around the room in search of what previous people had in this room; I found a scarf under the bed mattress. The woman comes back and takes me the video room;......

Words: 537 - Pages: 3

Offred's Struggle to Balance Hope

...Rhea Hunjan English Oct 10th 2013 How does Offred change her way of coping while under different circumstances? The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood shows a women’s life within a totalitarian society. Offred, the protagonist and narrator, struggles to remain sane within herself, this is express through her internal battle of balance of hope between her past, and the present she is in. As she tries to handle the different situations, her coping methods vary with her state of mind within the circumstance. Offred’s struggle is manifested in two different occasions through the book. Her hope to stay sane in one situation is done by her reminiscing the past she had and telling us that her past life identity must be hidden from others, while under different circumstances she copes by convincing herself that the present is where all her attention should be, and who she is now is who she must remain to survive. As Offred struggles to keep her sanity, she uses different methods to cope with her situations. Towards the beginning of the book, in Chapter 14, Offred tells us that she has “another name” however using it is forbidden. She also says “ I keep the knowledge of this name like something hidden, some treasure. I’ll come back to dig up, one day. I think of this name as buried”. This statement shows how she want to keep her identity hidden from this world, so one day if free to go from this situation she can come back for her name, as she connotes her name with a......

Words: 1205 - Pages: 5

Feminism in the Handmaid’s Tale

...woman’s culture and society would be one marked by pure sisterhood and equality. Discuss The Handmaid’s Tale as an exploration of the ideas of feminism, the treatment of women, and the control of women’s bodies. Feminism in The Handmaid’s Tale. Women have been treated very poorly through the years and in the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale women have no control of their bodies, the treatment they get from other is terrible and there is no freedom. Offred the main character is presented in the novel has a handmaid who’s only propose in life is to have a baby with the commander. She lives in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian state that has replaced the United States of America. She like other women have no freedom and are only allowed to go for shopping trip, but still someone is always watching. Therefore in the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, the women have limited rights, limited freedom and limited control of their bodies. The women in Gilead have no rights and have to listen to the rules or the consequences result in death, getting send to the colonies or become a prostitute at Jezebel’s. They don’t really have a choice they can be handmaids to the commander and his wife or become a prostitute at Jezebel’s, but it’s not really a choice thy only have two options. The women in Gilead have to do play their roles in the society and not complain about it. The roles include: Handmaids, Marthas, Econowives and the wives of the commander. Even in these......

Words: 951 - Pages: 4

The Handmaid's Tail

...Have you ever stopped to think, “How would my life change if someone was in total control of it?” How do you think it would change? Do you think it would be difficult living this way? Would people adapt to the environment? What do you think would happen if nobody was in control of their own lives, if we at the mercy of someone else. What if our lives were a prison to our society? In the “The Handmaids Tale” this is what happens. People are forced out of their daily lives and brought into new ones. Of-fred, the main protagonist, is trapped in Gilead as a handmaid. She is considered a ‘two legged womb’ and only valued for her potential as a surrogate mother. The town of Gilead shows male dominance and women only for reproduction. Of-fred and all the other women are denied all their individual rights. Her name has a lot of meaning, Of- Fred derived from the name of her current commander. Just her name shows her as a possession. She is forbidden to use her own name, she keeps it like a buried treasure, I think it’s so she can guarantee her own identity. Of-fred refuses to forget her past or her own name. “What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth…Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.” (Pg. 143) Everything in Gilead is done in Gods name. There is no separation between state and religion. There are many times when Biblical terms are used, they have hidden meanings. The vocabulary incorporates religious terms and Biblical references...

Words: 1048 - Pages: 5

Offreds Room in the Handmaids Tale

...In the novel A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood uses different descriptions of Offred’s room to illustrate the government’s control over her and her role in the society. She uses the room to allude to her situation almost because she is unable to explicitly state her discontent with her current conditions. Firstly, the author uses many similes, symbols and short sentence structures to emphasise the oppression and the totality of the control that the government has over Offred. She uses different objects in the room to symbolise Offred’s situation. While exploring her room, the narrator notices that “on the white ceiling… [there is] a blank space, plastered over, like the place in a face where the eye has been taken out.” (9) She also finds that “[the window] only opens partly” (9). The author uses the simile which compares the ceiling to a face without eyes, a result of the chandelier having been violently removed, to mirror how Offred is forced to be “blind” to the world. The government forces handmaids to wear wings around their face to prevent them from seeing and being seen. Offred and other handmaids thus cannot communicate and familiarise themselves with the world. They are powerless because they have no knowledge of the world; they cannot defend themselves against an unknown entity. The narrator uses this simile to imply that she is forced into being oblivious to her surroundings. Similarly, the author uses the window in Offred’s room as a symbol for her......

Words: 325 - Pages: 2

Compare and Contrast the Theme of Control in the Handmaids Tale and Nineteen Eighty-Four

...Compare and contrast the theme of control in The Handmaids Tale and Nineteen Eighty-Four Control is a central theme in both dystopian texts and control is present in both novels. Both societies in the novels are heavily controlled and restricted, but the key difference is in the regime used by the respective governments in each text. In The Handmaids Tale the government’s ideologies are theosophical whereas Nineteen Eighty-Four is based on socialism. These ideologies play a key role in the ways that control is presented in each novel. The governments use different forms of control to maintain their regimes and power and these include: indoctrination through control of hierarchy, language and religion. The governments act as totalitarian regimes which constantly monitor the lives of its citizens to keep them under their control. Orwell took inspiration from the plight of Britain during the time the novel was written; 1948. Britain had just come out of a horrifying war that devastated the world - World War Two - and her economy and overseas relations were in deep water. Britain’s economy was at its lowest in decades and very unstable; her Empire was dissolving in to the common wealth and international relations were quickly turning sour. Similarly to The Handmaids Tale, Nineteen Eighty-Four warns against governments’ overwhelming acquirement of power. Orwell himself was well-versed in the world of politics and strategies deployed by governments to gain control. He was also a......

Words: 2713 - Pages: 11

Totalitarianism’s Role in the Handmaid’s Tale

...eventually got to Offred: I used to think of my body as an instrument, of pleasure, or a means of transportation, or an implement for the accomplishment of my will . . . Now the flesh arranges itself differently. I’m a cloud, congealed around a central object, the shape of a pear, which is hard and more real than I am and glows red within its translucent wrapping. (Atwood 73) At this point, she thoroughly believes that her purpose is to have children and nothing more. She has stripped herself of her former life and adopted her new one. To the government she is now easier to control due to the fact that she has internalized their philosophy. Goldblatt says, “the work women do conspires to maintain the subjection of their own kind” (4). Offred’s job is to have children. Since she internalized the philosophy, her main goal now is to have a child before any other Handmaid has one. By pitting the Handmaids against one another, the totalitarian government insured that they would stay preoccupied and not try to rebel. In the epilogue of the novel, it says just that, "the best and most cost-effective way to control women for reproductive and other purposes was through women themselves" (Atwood 308). By hindering one another, the Handmaids ensured that they would never unite to topple their extremely conservative government. The people of Gilead were ignorant due to the isolation from the rest of the world and the lack of real information available to them. The government banned......

Words: 1512 - Pages: 7

The Handmaids Tale

...The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood in 1985. It is set in the republic of Gilead which has a highly structured hierarchy and a strict set of rules. The story is narrated by a young handmaid named Offred. Atwood says, “that the novel isn't simply a vehicle for private expression, but that it also exists for social examination.” Which is exactly what the novel serves as when it makes us criticise and reflect on the cracks in our society such as the totalitarian regimes that still reign today, gender inequality and the brutality of people higher up in society. In Gilead there is an obvious totalitarian regime and through the narrative of Offred, Atwood gives us a clear idea of her opinion on that. Offred was once a happily married woman with a daughter but she has now been caught up in the new Gilead totalitarian regime which has taken all that away from her and turned her into a handmaid whose only purpose is to bear children for her commander. The society is so strict that Offred has basically been reduced to a childlike state, she can’t pick what she wears, eats or says, she isn’t allowed basic necessities like moisturiser and she can’t even go to the bathroom unsupervised. The Gilead regime has taken away all of her personal freedom. Societies like these make us reflect on those in our own world such as the situation in North Korea. North Korea is run by a totalitarian regime, it is so strict on the people and they are in a similar......

Words: 909 - Pages: 4

Handmaid's Tale Essay

...Sarah Fisher MSN News Pope’s immigration message draws praise, criticism from advocacy groups 9/24/2015 Summary: On Thursday Pope Francis spoke before the entire Congress to talk about the current overwhelming immigration crisis, but law makers doubt that the pontiffs speak will have a long term effect on policy regarding the asylum seekers. The pope is also seeking a serious change in the tone of the presidential debate, specifically in the case of Donald Trump, who’s known for his extreme anti-immigration comments. The pope isn’t looking for immigration reform in the sense that he wants a new want to give the 11 million illegal aliens living in the states a better way to citizenship; more that he’s calling for unlimited immigration for the asylum seekers from the Middle East. Once they come to the United States they will have to go through the same citizenship process as everyone else. Congress is run by Republicans who are primarily in favor of toughening up immigration laws and have increased deportations of illegal immigrants. However, President Obama has taken serious action to ensure that children born in the United States to illegal immigrants receive citizenship and are educated. He’s also made it so that people who came to America illegally as children can apply for citizenship and for working permits, the same applies to illegal parents of citizens living in America. Lynn Tramonte, a representative from America’s Voice, said that the efforts to aid the asylum......

Words: 566 - Pages: 3

Handmaids Tale and 1984

...How far is language a tool of oppression in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’? Most dystopian novels contain themes of corruption and oppression, therefore in both ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ language is obviously used as a form of the states control, enabling dystopian leaders to remain in power by manipulating language to restrict free thought. Orwell and Atwood have utilized language as a key tool of oppression throughout their novels. The use of language is mostly repressive, language can also be seen as liberating, and used as an act of rebellion, which the state wishes to eliminate. The novel Nineteen Eighty Four contains a world in which language is being systematically corrupted. The introduction of ‘Newspeak’ (official language of Oceania) is created to remove even the possibility of rebellious thoughts as, “In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words” - the words by which such thoughts might be articulated have been eliminated from the language. Orwell believed that the corruption of language may be used to oppress an entire group of people which is why he created “Newspeak” in his novel. ‘Newspeak’ has been developed to the point of absurdity, the idea that words are taken away and re-adapted means you are not permitted to express yourself as "the Party seeks to narrow the range of thought altogether”. Newspeak makes the citizens more loyal to the state as citizens may be afraid of the...

Words: 2089 - Pages: 9

The Handmaid; S Tale

...The Handmaid’s Tale: Power and Corruption Governments impose a certain amount of power and control on their citizens in order for societies to function according to plan. In the Handmaid’s Tale, excessive control and power in the Gilead society strips the residents of their freedom, forbidding them to live ordinary lives. Men abuse their control and power over women in order to satisfy their personal needs and women are persecuted to the point of corruption. The Handmaids suffer the most due to the loss of their personal liberties and identities. Inhabitants live in constant fear for their lives, and are subjected to perpetual surveillance. The Gilead society follows a patriarchal law that women must obey their male counterparts. Since they believe that they are powerful, they think that they can get away with what they want. An example of the male abuse that occurs in the Handmaid’s Tale centres on Offred, who is trapped in Gilead as a Handmaid. She is one of the women valued only for her potential as a surrogate mother. Denied all her individual rights and personal identity, she is known only by the patronymic Of-Fred, derived from the name of her current Commander. Offred struggles with this new name with this statement, “My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it's forbidden. I tell myself it doesn’t matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does......

Words: 887 - Pages: 4

Discuss How Atwood and Miller Explore the Theme of Oppression in the Handmaid’s Tale and the Crucible.

...The theme of oppression is constant throughout both The Handmaid’s Tale and The Crucible. Both show how religion can be twisted into a form of control in society and they show the huge detrimental and devastating effects this control can have. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible shows the horror and appalling nature of the Salem witch trials of 1692, but beneath this surface it shows the parallels to aspects in Miller’s own life at this period, with the idea of McCarthyism going out of control in America. McCarthyism was a result of the second red scare in America in the late 1940´s/1950’s. It was a fear driven movement that swept across the United States where the threat of a Communist world revolution seemed like a very real threat. In response to this branches of the government set up organisations such as HUAC (The House Un-American Activities Committee) to help fight Communism from infiltrating the state. Unfortunately in the end it simply led to a ´witch hunt´ in which people were brought to trial and accused of being communist, Miller amongst them. HUAC and McCarthyism were simply examples of how when those in power feel threatened they will do anything to maintain their position which is what Miller set out to show in The Crucible. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood took a different approach, with a dystopian text which shows a world in which women are heavily oppressed and religion is used as a tool to brainwash and control the population. Atwood has made a point of showing......

Words: 2479 - Pages: 10

Oppression on Women in Margaret Atwood's the Handmaid's Tale and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis

...Oppression on Women in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, is memoir of a little girl growing in Iran. She refers to a secular pre revolutionary time through contrast, the oppressive characteristics of the fundamentalist government upon women in particular. Her work is a lot similar to Margaret Atwood's, A Handmaid’s Tale, in which the protagonist Offred reflects upon her former life’s freedom, cherishing her former name and in doing so emphasizes the cloistered and enslaved life that she must now endure. Although both Margaret Atwood and Satrapi show how a totalitarian state oppresses women in different ways by taking away the freedom to think and decide for oneself, both accentuating on the ways a woman should dress, which stratified society in Handmaid’s tale and enforced religious modesty in Persepolis. Growing up in the western society, we often think clothing as a means of expressing our individuality, our style, defining who we are. Offred grew up in a similar environment but it was taken away once she became a Handmaid. That was the precise reason why she felt “ fascinated but also repelled” (28) at the same time when she saw the Japanese tourist. She says she “used to dress like that. That was freedom. Westernized they used to call it”(28). She says this because she no longer gets to dress like the tourists any more. In a very little amount of time, the society has forced every individual to change...

Words: 960 - Pages: 4