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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