Lisa Sahlani English 112

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Lisa Sahlani

English 112

Mr. Joseph Cheatle

Close Reading Ch. 1-17

The novel The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood, speaks of the republic of Gilead, which is far different from the world that we live in today. Gilead is a dystopian society where women are looked at as inferior to men, and even forbidden to read, write, and articulate their feelings and their experiences. The novel follows the main character Offred, who was separated from her husband Luke and daughter after the formation of Gilead. Offred belongs to her commander Fred, and her sole purpose is to bear his child and be a handmaid since his wife is known to be infertile. Women are looked down upon in this society, and can not openly inter act with men. This society looks down on the past that came before it. Offred, being stuck in a society where she has no say, has to look for some gleam of hope from her seemingly dreary dream like life.

“I would like to believe this is a story I’m telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance. If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off.” (39)

This quotation truly shows the inner workings and beliefs that Offred has. In a society in which she is forbidden to speak out, she rebels by telling her story. Through her story Offred gains power since Gilead can control her whole life minus her inner thoughts and the experiences that she had before Gilead. Gilead takes away from her freedom and as she puts it the creation of her story gives her “control over the ending.” This shows that she has a strong belief that there will be an ending to the life that she is trapped in. Offred wants to believe that after this nightmare she will go back to real life, and pick up were she left off with her husband and her child. At this point Offred hopes that someone will listen to her story someday, and she may even be able to tell it to Luke. By finding this escape and source of rebellion Offred denies Gilead ultimate power of her being. Even after being a prisoner to Gilead’s control, Offred manages to have found the ultimate source of power; that being her inner mind.

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