Handmaid's Tale Scene Analysis

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When first reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, it is easy to dismiss the scene where Serena Joy proposes the arrangement between Offred and Nick. The scene does not seem so important because Offred would have had the affair with Nick later in the novel anyway. However, this scene is critical to the novel because it furthers the plot and sets up for an emotional and thematic end. This scene is very important because it furthers the plot. Firstly, Offred sees Serena Joy on her way back to the house from her shopping trip with Ofglen. She tries to “glide by her, hoping to be invisible, knowing [she’ll] be ignored”. However, she is not. This is the first clue Atwood gives to show that this scene is something out of the ordinary. Then,…show more content…
When Offred answers that she is not yet pregnant, Serena Joy mentions that the Commander might be sterile. This moves the plot further. By telling Offred this, Serena has taken a large risk. Offred can report her to an Eye or tell the Commander. She shows Offred that she is willing to trust her, which makes Offred more willing to listen to her proposal. When Offred agrees, she is taking a large risk as well, and her agreement also furthers the plot. Then, Serena Joy suggests that Offred “should try it another way” and then offers the idea of the arrangement, which is her purpose in this scene. Offred considers the idea and says, “Not with a doctor”, signaling that she is taking the idea seriously. This moves the plot further because then Serena Joy sees that Offred is willing but she wants to negotiate the details of the arrangement. Next, Serena Joy offers the idea of having the arrangement with Nick. This is important because it leads to Offred’s affair with him later in the story. Offred finally agrees and this begins her arrangement, and later affair, with Nick. In appreciation of Offred’s cooperation,…show more content…
Firstly, Offred explains the difference between Serena Joy’s dress and her own, noting that “for [Serena Joy] it’s blue, watercolor, not this red of [Offred’s] that sucks in heat and blazes with it at the same time”. Offred discusses how she blazes with heat in it as a product of the warm weather but also with shame because handmaids are looked down upon in this society. This small detail emphasizes the class difference between Serena Joy and Offred. Also, when Serena Joy calls Offred over to her, she says “come over here, I want you”. Her statement is a command. She doesn’t bother with niceties because she knows she holds the power in this relationship and she doesn’t have to. This reinforces the power difference between the two women. Serena Joy then says, “You can sit”, allowing Offred to sit down. She then allows Offred to take the cushion and orders her to hold the wool. These sentences show that she holds the power in this scene. Serena Joy goes on to fit the wool around Offred’s hands, like a pair of handcuffs or a leash, as Offred sees it. This symbolizes how powerless and oppressed Offred is in this society. Offred also compares it to a cobweb, with Serena Joy as the spider and Offred as the helpless prey. This shows the power difference between the two women. Serena is treating her like an
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