Her name means that she is under the property of a man named Fred. The first part of her name ‘Of’ is the prefix that is given to all the Handmaids. Thus, this can also be seen as another example of how women are not equal since they belong to men. A quote to prove the Handmaid’s uniforms can be seen through a passage in Atwood’s novel titled The Handmaid’s Tale which
The role of the aunts is to run the red center, where the handmaid’s are being “trained” into what they are needed for. The Aunts are masterminds in getting the handmaid’s into thinking what the “correct” way of living and going about their day within the new society: “Try to think of it from their point of view she said, her hands clasped and wrung together, her nervous pleading smile. It isn't easy for them.” (14). The Aunts wear brown clothing with belts that have cattle prods attached, this is incase the handmaid’s decide to disobey, or misbehave. The aunts are the only ones that hold the power to read and write within the society of Gilead.
Atwood’s dystopian novel is a warning about the consequences of misogynistic, authoritarian governments. Her message seems to be universal since the subjugation of women by religious extremists, remains a concern in the present
As long as internalized sexism remains unaddressed and unhealed, mistrust and “horizontal oppression” will continue (Szymankski 103). Internalized sexism “[reinforces the] web of insecurities and rigidities” between women (Pheterson 159). Relationships between women in The Handmaid’s Tale reflect this. The acrimony between Offred and Serena Joy or Aunt Lydia and the novice handmaids both reveal the same truth; the female characters in The Handmaid’s Tale antagonize one another because of the toxic situation in which they must live. In their attempt to survive, they become complicit in the society that restricts women.
Atwood used a variety of description all throughout the book which helps the reader better comprehend and really helped keep the book interesting for the reader. While Offred is looking around her room Atwood is sure to describe the room as vividly as possible. Atwood describes a picture which is “a print of flowers, blue irises, watercolor” which helps the reader visualize all of the aspects of the room (Atwood 7). Camus includes description in his book as well but not as vividly as Atwood. While Dr. Bernard Rieux in The Plague is looking a patient Camus mentions that the room “that served as both dining room and bedroom” without much description relating to color size or any objects in the room (Camus 9).
In the totalitarian and theocratic state of Gilead, Woman who are fertile and thus still retain the ability to reproduce, are assigned to a Commander – A high ranking military official of the Gilead society. The only distinction between these individual fertile women is whose property they belong to. So the handmaid’s names are a combination of the word “of” and the name of their commander. That is why the main character is called Offred, as well as other handmaids being called Ofglen and etc. The aim of this is to strip these women of all their individuality.
Foster suggests, “...sex can be pleasure, sacrifice, submission, rebellion, resignation, supplication, domination, enlightenment, the whole works” (158). The Handmaids must submit to their Commanders as they hold the dominant role. The Handmaids are also sacrificing their bodies and fertility to their Commander and his wife in order to give them a child. They have all been renamed with names that signify the Commanders they serve: Offred, Ofglen, Ofcharles, Ofwarren, etc. These names show the Commanders’ possession of the Handmaids.
Meanwhile, Penelope’s society has imprisoned her in another planet until she can see herself through the eyes of her fathers. Both governments use manipulative propaganda and the appearance of deliverance, to subjugate Moira and Penelope, resulting in different reactions from the women. Moira, in The Handmaid’s Tale, experienced manipulative propaganda during her time at the Red Center through the lessons taught by the Aunts who enforce the doctrine of Gilead on the Handmaids. The reader learns that Moira resides in an environment in which “The chances [of having a healthy baby] are one in four [and] the air got too full, once of chemicals” (Atwood, 112). The pollution in the air affects the Gilead birth rate and causes birth defects, resulting in the Gilead having to create and manipulate Handmaids through propaganda.
The Handmaid’s Tale Religion is the basics of what people choose to believe in. Religion is often tied with our morality, to keep us in the right path and help us distinguish right from wrong. It is what gives us human beings part of our identity. It is what we turn to in times of crisis. However, Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, shows how religion is used to create fear in order to control the people of Gilead and maintain order within the society.