Thomas C. Foster's How To Read Literature Like A Professor

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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 The Handmaid’s Tale, color is often mentioned while describing clothing. Each individual in Gilead wears a certain colored uniform that is symbolic of their role in…show more content…
The Commander and the Aunts claim that women are better protected in Gilead, where they are treated with respect and kept safe from violence. However, while Gilead claims to suppress sexual violence, it actually institutionalizes it. An example is Jezebel’s, the club that provides the Commanders with prostitutes to service the male elite. Another example is the Ceremony that compels Handmaids to have sex with their Commanders. 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. In The Handmaid’s Tale, sex symbolizes the Handmaid’s sacrifice and submission and the Commanders domination and control over the Handmaids in
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