In How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster teaches readers the meanings behind commonly used symbols, themes, and motifs. Many readers of all ages use this book as a guide to understanding messages and deeper meanings hidden in novels. The deeper literary meanings of various symbols in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale are explained in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. By using Foster’s book, readers can better understand the symbols in The Handmaid’s Tale. In Atwood’s novel, symbolisms of sex, flowers, and color add to the development of the novel and the deeper meaning of the plot.
In face of severe situation, people often feel relief when they think of happier, simpler times in order to alleviate the severity. In the fiction novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, a theocracy government controls every aspect of life in order to produce the best result of its plans. At the beginning of chapter 12, Offred takes a required, but luxurious bath because she can take off the burdensome wings and veils. While she bathes, Offred remembers her daughter from the past and a time with her family. Atwood compares Offred’s past and present through imagery, tone, similes, and symbolism combined with parallel structure to highlight the vulnerability of women to their surroundings.
Margret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a dystopian novel, that centres around the themes of corruption, oppression, and theocracy. Told in the first person, the novel follows the female ‘Offred’ in her daily life/activities and past experiences in the newly founded “Republic of Gilead”. From my personal research, the events in the novel were influenced by negative situations that involved the American society prior to the 1980’s. These negative aspects of Gilead’s religious society in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ were drawn from similar issues facing the American public prior to the 1980’ s. These issues were based on religious concepts that were thought to greatly improve the American population's standard of living. The main ideas that influenced the creation of certain events and
Toni Morrison frequently incorporates her familial background into her literary works. She is an African-American female author who was told African myths and folktales by her family members, who she credits for “instilling in her a love of reading, music and folklore” (“Toni Morrison”). Morrison is fully in touch with and appreciative of her ancestral background, and because of this, she reiterates these tales in her writings. In Song of Solomon, Morrison employs a wide variety of African cultural traditions and folklores to create a unique narrative regarding an African-American man’s quest for self-discovery and his true cultural identity, one that is absent from his current community.
Conflict can be described as the struggle between two opposing forces, whether the forces being person vs person, person vs self or person vs society. Good examples of conflict can be found in almost any book. Margaret Atwood’s novel, the Handmaid’s Tale is a source of all three types of conflicts. The Handmaid’s Tale is about a society where females are given specific duties and are restricted from reading, writing, talking to others and looking at themselves in mirrors. The protagonist, Offred whom is also the narrator in the novel faces conflicts with herself, with other people, and the society that she lives in. Offred’s conflict with the commander’s wife Serena Joy only escalates throughout the book, as the two did not like each other
What the Handmaid’s never get to experience is freedom as they are supposed to blindly follow the rules set for them. In the text, the Eyes of God are Gilead’s secret police. Both their name and their insignia, a winged eye, symbolize the eternal watchfulness of God and the totalitarian state. In Gilead’s theocracy, the eye of God and of the state are assumed to be one and the
Atwood connects the political events to show how Gilead gained control and keeps their control by establishing fear into the women. Gilead stays in control by limiting speech to religious references, keeping the women from talking about the oppression they are suffering. Additionally, women are blamed for the social issues that were present in a pre-Gilead society such as rape, abortion and adultery. Women get the blame for the issues and men do not suffer consequences since it is in their nature to cheat. Atwood uses allusions to the Old Testament and historical events to satirize the oppression of women in political, religious and social
What would become of the world, if our current societal flaws, such as sexism, racism, and classism were ingrained and executed at a systematic level? This is exactly what The Handmaid’s Tale set out to explore. The novel, which claims to be speculative fiction, is set in the theocratic Republic of Gilead (formerly the USA), where birth rates are rapidly declining and women have been marginalized by the patriarchal regime, forbidden to read, write or love and valued only if they are able to procreate. They are separated into classes, including Wives, Marthas, Aunts, Unwomen, and Handmaids, distinguishable only by the color of their clothing. The Handmaids are renamed by combining ‘of’ and the name of the Commander that they have been assigned to, stripping them of any individuality. The protagonist of The Handmaid’s Tale is referred to as Offred (of Fred). Through the manipulation of literary devices such as juxtaposition, allusion, and descriptive diction, Margaret Atwood voices her concerns about our future, and reveals just how quickly and completely our present could transform.
Works of literature often portray ideas relating to Marxist theory, this is why in a dystopian society, class distinctions dominate the social climate, using Marxist ideologies as a tool to define the lives of the narrator and those around her. In Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, ideologies from Marxist theory dominate the society in which Offred, the narrator, lives in, evidenced by the strict class systems and limited interaction between them. In writing the novel, Atwood makes a point to create a world that could exist using technology and ideas already accessible in today’s society, meaning the events that take place in The Handmaid’s Tale could happen in present day. Offred lives in a reality where class distinctions dominate society, and women, especially fertile women. These women are displaced downwards, although there are those women who attempt to resist the grip of society. Offred initially feels a sense of loss due to her position as a fertile woman since the independence and individuality she once enjoyed has since been stripped from her by the Republic of Gilead. It is only through rebellion that Offred is able to slowly regain her sense of self and reject the role that Gilead forces her into. By rebellion, however, it is often more dangerous for the perpetrators than to the government’s grip on the people. Offred’s societal role as a handmaid in Gilead forces her to first obey, then causes her to question, which finally allows her to realize her
In the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, the protagonist, Offred, expresses her wish that her “story [is] different,” that it is “happier,” or at least “more active, less hesitant, less distracted” than it is ultimately portrayed (267). However, as her story is told, these characteristics are evident in the way she talks and acts, especially around those with authority. Hesitant to express her true thoughts and feelings, and distracted by memories from her previous life, Offred attempts to piece together her role in the society that has taken her freedom. The result is a compilation of moments, of memories, both from her present, her past, and even speculation about her future. This collection consists of various emotions, and
In Margaret Atwood’s novel, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, Moira is depicted as the symbol for resistance to authority and represents hope to the Handmaids. Atwood presents her as a polar opposite to Offred. She is independent, strong-willed, and outspoken. Conversely, the pair can be argued to be doubles in the fact that they both ‘resist’ to the oppressive Republic in Gilead.
In the 1980s, United States was experiencing the rise of conservatism. Under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, conservative religious groups were gaining popularity. In response to the social and political landscape, Canadian author Margaret Atwood published a fictional novel The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986; a genre of dystopian novels. The storyline projects an imaginary futuristic world where society lives under oppression and illusion of a utopian society maintained through totalitarian control. Dystopian novels often focus on current social government trends and show an exaggeration of what happens if the trends are taken too far. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the novel critiques gender inequality and autocratic authority. The hierarchical class of men consists of Commanders, Angels, and Guardians. In particular, the Commanders are the highest-ranking social group in Gileadean society. The Commanders are represented as powerful men. They have leadership roles, autocratic governance, and are oppressors controlling the Gilead regime. However,
Often, we see a society’s cultural values reflected in its citizens. For example, the United States values equality, a standard that is shared in all facets including gender. The opposite is true of Gilead, a fictional society in Emily Bronte’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The novel’s main character, Offred, is subjected to degrading treatment simply because she is a woman. It becomes apparent that this repeated degradation has affected the protagonist’s mind. Through first-person point of view and the motif of eyes, Brontë establishes the effects of Gilead’s patriarchal society on Offred’s psychological and moral traits, revealing that the only way to survive in an oppressive society is to outwardly conform.
John Steinbeck 's classic novella “Of Mice and Men” revolves around the escapades of George Milton and his mentally handicapped friend Lennie Smalls as they try to “make their stake” and “live off the fatta’ the land” (steinbeck, 17) During this short lived scheme, they meet Curley 's wife. Curley 's wife, driven by loneliness, tries to befriend Lennie. This attempt of companionship ends as Lennie panics and snaps her neck in a quick few shakes. She died simply as she lived, nameless and easy. Steinbeck objectifies Curley 's wife to reveal that regardless of a woman 's appearance or drive, she will never achieve her dream.
Rebellion; the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention. The Handmaid’s Tale written by Margaret Atwood is a novel. The novel takes place in Gilead a dystopian society. Everyone in Gilead has an important role to play within the society, however, it seems as if none of the characters seem content with their role, due to the restrictions they face. In the novel, the lack of freedom leads to rebellion as shown by the characterization, interior dialogue, flashbacks, and foreshadowing.