The Handmaid's Tale Essay

Submitted By gradesforgold
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“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

“There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from” (Atwood, 34). In the book “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, the reader is told the story of Offred through her point of view. Her life takes place in a future society called Gilead. In Gilead, procreation is key. Women are treated as nothing but objects for fertilization. Select women are chosen to become “Handmaids”, those who must carry children. Not everyone agrees with this society, but they do not have a choice but to learn how to adjust. It is vital for the people to conform to this new world because if not, then they have the “Eyes” to worry about. Once the Eyes have taken someone, then they are never heard of again. However, there are those who wish to fight back against this oppressive government. These rebels are known as “Mayday”. In Chapter 6, Aunt Lydia explains how things under Gilead have simplified life for everyone “In the days of Anarchy it was freedom to. Now you’re being given freedom from.” It is better to have freedom to than freedom from because with freedom to, you have control over what happens in your life and you cannot be treated like someone else’s puppet. Life was better when people had control over their daily lives before this change to Gilead had occurred. An example of this was in chapter 7 when Offred was reflecting on how life was in the days of Anarchy. “I would like to believe this is a story I’m telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance. If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off” (Atwood, 39). This implies that Offred, even though she’s in this life where she is not in charge, she continues to look on what she can and that is how her story plays out. She is telling the reader that she stills holds the freedom to agree with this society or go against it. Another example of this would be in the beginning of chapter 23 while Offred is lying in bed. “But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest” (Atwood, 135). This quote suggests that to be able to have someone want forgiveness gives a power to the one granting said forgiveness. It makes sense in this world as many women a wronged daily being treated as nothing more as things used to give birth. If anything were to happen where anyone had felt the need to receive forgiveness to a handmaid, they would then lose their power over the handmaid as they have shown to need mercy from them. Moreover, this shows Offred is aware of the unsteady balance of control and power. With power, comes control. Additionally, it better to have freedom to because with freedom to you do not have to give up the things you had. For instance, in Chapter 37, after The Commander takes Offred to the whorehouse, he tells Offred to “Just act natural.” The book then goes on to say “All you have to do, I tell myself, is keep your mouth shut and look stupid. It shouldn’t be that hard” (Atwood, 236). This supports the fact that women are being treated like objects and Offred’s saying that it should not be hard is saying that she is, if not okay with, is at least used to this objectification. If someone was to have freedom to letting