The Handmaid's Tale Analysis

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Throughout the novel, it is clear that Gilead is not a society compromised of individuals; rather it is a society where people are thought to be a collective group: “That is what you have to do before you kill, I thought. You have to create an it, where none was before. You do that first, in your head, and then you make it real. So that’s how they do it, I thought. I seemed never to have known that before” (Atwood 192-193). Offred reflects back on the killing of her cat where Luck was the killer and she was the bystander. However, her reflection can also be interpreted as a relationship between women and the Gileadean regime. Luke, who killed the cat, represents the regime, the men represent the bystander while Offred has the role of the cat.…show more content…
In contrast, before women were ‘its’ they were doctors, teachers, mothers, nurses, lawyers, etc. These groups of individuals of various abilities and aptitudes have all been transformed or reduced to a collective and abstract idea. This one society has stripped women of their identities, characteristics and skills that made them individualistic from each other, and dressed them up with different uniforms of specific colors to designate their roles in the rigid hierarchy. For example, names that once held value, heritage or tradition are invalid as the Handmaids are named after their respective Commanders. Offred expresses the value and power a real name holds: “I tell myself it doesn’t matter…but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter…This name has an aura around it, like an amulet, some charm that’s survived from an unimaginably distant past” (Atwood 84). Once again, women are depicted as objects, “its”. Instead of proper names, the women are labeled like the stickers on soup cans. Offred, later on, expresses the happiness of someone calling her by her real name. Something that she took for granted is now gone and she can feel its missing…show more content…
As a result of the extensive propaganda, the Handmaids quickly fall into routine and submit to the regime: “One of them is vastly pregnant…She’s a magic presence to us, an object of envy and desire, we covet her. She’s a flag on a hilltop, showing us what can still be done: we too can be saved” (Atwood 26). The women have reevaluated and redefined the words: success, happiness, solace and failure. Their goals are probably different than they were before this new system. To be pregnant is to be fulfilling your role as a woman in the Republic of Gilead. The desperation and hunger to get pregnant is evident within the community of Handmaids as it represents a safety net. Failure of pregnancy results in failure of fulfilling their niche in the society. Handmaids stop protesting their assigned societal roles and the abuse of their rights as individuals. They have started to regard this abuse as success. The Handmaids are jealous of those who conceive babies—they acknowledge that their bodies are instruments of reproduction: “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

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