The Handmaid's Tale Essay

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A society is normally governed by a party or a group that strengthens and maintains its power so that people obey its laws. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, is a futuristic dystopia in which people are afraid to rebel against the government of Gilead that strictly monitors all aspects of the civilians’; however, there are some lights of hopes included in the story. Many of the key points in the novel are left ambiguous; the author never provides concrete answers to those questions. Due to this, a variety of possibilities are provided to allow the readers to see with a positive view. Offred, the main character, seems dispassionate and is certainly not an activist; however, she finds her own way to rebel and question her society, that the readers may see hope in her future. Moreover, the growing rebellion and the persistent memories of pre-Gilead in the minds of its citizens provide hints that the government of Gilead might eventually be overthrown. As a result, throughout the novel, it is clear that Margaret Atwood maintains a sense of optimism, and suggests that a person in any terrible circumstances may eventually find their way out. Offred, the main character, who is a dispassionate handmaid that struggles of her role in society; however, deep in her mind she is not pleased with Gilead and often resists internally. In the first place, she is surfing back through her memories of the past and comparing how horrible the society is now. Eventually she said that “if it’s a story [she is] telling, then [she] has control over the ending” (Atwood 50), which by telling a story is her way of rebelling the society. In Gilead, any words and writing are forbidden. Women are been silenced by the laws, though Offred choose to tell this story inside her mind. This gives the reader a more positive view towards the main character and sets herself a hope of future that she may have a good ending to her story/life. Moreover, Offred has been manipulated to accept her social role as a handmaid, yet sometimes she still shows the human nature that inevitability of human struggle against the prevailing order. For instance, after she went to see the doctor she is exhausted of the plan the doctor tells her and during supper she thinks that “[she] compose herself. [Her] self is a thing [she] must now compose, as one composes a speech. What I must present is a made thing, not something born” (82). From her thoughts, Offred provides an optimistic view towards denying the use of her body as a fertility machine. This creates the positive attitude for Offred herself and so does the readers. Furthermore, at the beginning she is not expecting anybody would listen to her story; however, in the historical notes the professor says “as all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it” (388). The positive view toward this idea is that Offred’s story is her evidence of rebelling and resisting the society through a wordless way. Eventually someone has heard it which suggests that people will know this mistaken society and hopefully people will take her message as a warning to future. Therefore, Margaret Atwood injects the sense of optimism which Offred continues to carry some sort of hope throughout the novel.
Other than Offred, many citizens of Gilead do not accept the new form of government and privately maintain the lifestyle from pre-Gilead. First of all, Ofglen is Offred’s walking partner who is a member of a religious resistance group. They uses password such as “Mayday” and rebels the rules of the government. It is a private group that Ofglen describes “It isn’t good for [them] to know about too many of the others, in the network. In case [Offred] gets caught” (253). Gilead seems to appear that everyone is in control by enforcement; although, groups like this formed will suggest that the society is unstable in which could lead to the downfall of totalitarian government. Similarly, the