The Handmaid's Tale: Plot Analysis Essay

1913 Words 8 Pages
The Handmaid's Tale is written by Margaret Atwood and was originally published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985. The novel is set in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Handmaid's Tale explores themes of a new totalitarian theocratic state society that is terrifying and horrific. Its main concentration is on the subjugation of women in Gilead, and it also explores the plethora of means by which the state and agencies gain control and domination against every aspect of these women's lives. Restrictive dress codes also play an important factor as a means of social order and control in this new society.

Offred, not her real name but the name given to her by her occupation, is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. The Republic of Gilead is a
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She had a former husband named Luke, and they had a little daughter together before the new regime took over.

Offred's purpose is to serve the Commander and his wife, Serena Joy. When Offred is at the crucial point in her menstrual cycle when she is most fertile, the Commander must have passionless sex with Offred in order to accomplish the objective of impregnating her. This is Offred's third attempt; she was not successful with the two Commanders before this one. If Offred fails again she will be declared an Unwoman and sent to the colonies for hard labor. Offred's freedom is completely restricted. She can not have the door to her room totally shut, and she can leave the house only on specific purposeful trips such as to visit the wall or for purchasing grocery items. All the while, Gilead's secret police forces, known only as ‘Eyes', are scrutinizing every move she makes.

As the female narrators reads the story to the audience we realize that she often has flashbacks to former times, when the United States was still a nation. She recalls the happier times she had with her mother, her close friends, and her lover and husband Luck. In the Pre-Gilead period, she also had a little daughter, June, with Luck. Offred's mother was a single mother and feminist activist. Her best friend was Moira, who was also fiercely independent.

Using the military, the founders of…