Theme Of Identity In The Handmaid's Tale

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The majority of people ask the same question at some point in their life; who am I? The concept of identity is something many wrestle with their whole lives. Other individuals are confident of who they are. The Handmaid’s Tale follows a society that is stripped of individuality and identity. This question can no longer be asked because it cannot be answered. The society is functioning, but the morals of the system are questionable. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood uses the theme of identity to emphasize the power individuality, lack of identity results in rebellion and that identity is something you don't know you have until it's gone. Even in our normal, non-dystopian society, our world tries to tell us who we are. In The Handmaid's Tale they…show more content…
Through breaking small rules, Offred is connecting to her past identity. At dinner, Offred steals butter, “As long as we do this, butter our skin to keep it soft, we can believe that we will someday get out, that we will be touched again, in love or desire. We have ceremonies of our own, private ones,” (Atwood 96). This simple action represents the hope of a future that is like their past. Rebelling by stealing butter, playing Scrabble, reading magazines, and having love interests allows her to come back to part of her identity. By stripping the society of identity, the government is asking for rebellion. Moira is one of the biggest rebels in this story. Her free spirit and independence could not be taken away easily. After overpowering Aunt Elizabeth and escaping the Red Center, Moira was now a rebel and would face punishment if found. “Moira had power now, she'd been set loose, she'd set herself loose. She was now a loose woman," (Atwood 133). Despite Offred slightly rebelling to hold onto her identity, it is still difficult to stay connected to in this…show more content…
However, everyone is completely aware of their lack of identity and the new one given to them. Even the individuals in power don’t have their true identity and individuality. Offred ponders as she is taking a bath,“I used to think of my body as an instrument, of pleasure, or a means of transportation, or an implement for the accomplishment of my will . . . Now the flesh arranges itself differently. I’m a cloud, congealed around a central object, the shape of a pear, which is hard and more real than I am and glows red within its translucent wrapping,” (Atwood 73). This quote shows how she lost her sexual identity and how her present is very different from the past. Losing her identity has caused her to look back frequently on her past identity. Atwood has the narrator reflect on her past identity to show how big the difference is in her current identity. Even more, Atwood is pointing out that when someone loses something, they realize how grateful they are for it and how important it was before it was taken. To further hold onto her identity Offred spends a lot of time reflecting on her past and who who is. "The night is mine, my own time, to do with it as I will, as long as I am quiet,” (Atwood 49). Night time, she explores put identity and tries to get back what she lost. By going to her memories, meeting with Nick, meeting with the Commander, and just being still, she is portraying

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