Literary Analysis: The Handmaid's Tale

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“To want is to have a weakness. It’s this weakness, whatever it is, that entices me. It’s like a small crack in a wall, before now impenetrable”(Atwood 136). In the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, follows the character and narrator Offred. The narrator is trapped in the Republic of Gilead, where the representative government is replaced by a religious totalitarian system. When this occurs, desire and beliefs are being forced upon the residents. In most cases achieving what you want is a huge risk and, usually, end in a fate worse than death. Atwood illustrates that desire leads to dim-witted actions as shown through the setting and the decision that the character takes on her story.
Atwood’s decision of setting plays
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This causes them to disregard the consequences when they pursue their desires. In the Republic of Gilead, their religious ideology prevents the residents from enjoying simple pleasures such as reading magazines and playing games. Leaving the Commander reminiscing such pleasures. For instance, when secretly playing scrabble, Offred and the Commander go back and forth conversing, “How about your wife?” he responded, “No...She wouldn’t understand. Anyway, She won’t talk to me much anymore. We don’t seem to have much in common, these days”. Offred thought to herself “That’s what I was there for, then. The same old thing”(158). In these quotes, the Commander explains to Offred the reason why he decided to take the risk of breaking the rules and having her playing scrabble with him. This action demonstrates the Commander’s desire of not simply playing a game he misses, but to feel the connection that he lost in his relationship with his wife. The Commander’s need for companionship leads to the risk of getting caught by his wife and ruining his reputation. Such as the Commander’s want for companionship leads him to irrational actions. Offred’s friend, Moira, wishes of staying alive leads her irrationally giving up something important. In this case, when Offred finds Moira in the club, Moira tells Offred, “So here I am. They even give you face cream. You should figure out some way of getting here. You’d have three or four good years before your snatch wears out and they send you out to the boneyard. The food’s not bad and there’s drink and drugs, if you want it, and we only work nights”. Offred responded, “You don't mean that”(249). Moira used to have a strong and rebellious personality. These quotations reveal that her desire to live, lead to the foolish action of giving up her ambition for freedom and settling as a “Jezebel” in a brothel (249).
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