Disobedience In Handmaid's Tale

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Oscar Wilde argues that disobedience furthers a society by evoking a change, one that creates positive impacts. In Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, the Republic of Gilead forces Offred to the assignment of bearing children to promote social progress and order. Offred is stripped from her identity by being forced to wear a certain dress and by not being allowed to talk. Throughout the novel, Offred begins to question the purpose of such system, in which human rights are void; however, in a system so oppressive she is confined to her own conscious to rebel against societal impositions. Offred’s inner desire to preserve her identity and rebel opposes her outwardly display of conformity to the normalcy accepted by Gilead. Her passiveness in…show more content…
This acceptance of a new type of freedom highlights her unconscious conformity to her status and place in society and the definition of freedom (4a). In Gilead, Offred, and the other Handmaids are considered lower beings who “[are] the people who [are] not in the papers,” and “[live] in the blank white spaces at the edge of print” forced to have sexual intercourse to produce offspring. Offred believes that being invisible in her own society “[gives] [her] more freedom,” because she “‘[lives] in gaps between the stories,” forever forgotten. The freedom she finds in being invisible within her society epitomizes the distortion of her beliefs by the oppressive government. In a way, she is conforming to the totalitarian regime, one that strives to rid humans of freethinking by instilling their own beliefs and way of life. Offred’s new idea of a satisfactory freedom is one in which she must hide her true identity and desire. This newly-acquired mentality is forced upon her by the society she lives in, in which she must outwardly display approval and conformity. Despite occasionally asking the Commander questions and reading, Unlike Moira, who twice tries to run away from Gilead and her assigned duty, Offred quickly becomes demoralized and values safety more than she values rebelling for her unalienable rights. To an extent even Moira becomes demoralized after being captured and forced to be a prostitute, which highlights that Gilead is able to transform and crush the spirits of even those who outwardly rebel. Aunt Lydia tells the handmaids to accept their new duty even though it “may not seem ordinary to [them] now,” because “after time it will. It will become ordinary.” Aunt Lydia’s assurance of them only transiently feeling out of place is just one way that Gilead tries to alter the handmaid's mindset
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