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
... 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
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