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Analysis and Plot Summary of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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Analysis and Plot Summary of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood essay

The narrator in The Handmaid’s Tale is Offred, whose real name is June, and the book is in her point of view, which is first person, because she explains and describes everything she sees. She describes her thoughts and if she is thinking of something, we will know what it is. An example of tone in The Handmaid’s Tale is somber and depressing, because Offred always talking how she wishes the days were like they used to be and she describes she wants to have a normal life. In The Handmaid’s Tale, “I wish this story were different. I wish it were more civilized. I wish it showed me in a better light, if not happier, then at least more active, less hesitant, less distracted by trivia. I wish it had more shape. I wish it were about love, or about sudden realizations important to one’s life, or even about sunsets, birds, rainstorms, or snow… I’m sorry there is so much pain in this story”. Offred wishes to have her normal life back again and not the life she has now.

The setting in the book takes place in numerous places, but it mostly takes place in the Commanders house which is in the Republic of Gilead. The book shows to take place in the modern times because the main character, Offred, describes seeing large vehicles, watching movies, and having factories operate by themselves.

The main problem in The Handmaid’s Tale are that the handmaids are slave towards the Commander and his wife. The commander has to get the handmaid pregnant and the handmaid are responsible to get pregnant to have a baby for the commander and his wife. In The Handmaid’s Tale, it explains, “Most of those old guys can’t make it anymore, he says. Or they’re sterile. I almost gasp: he’s said a forbidden word. Sterile. There is no such thing as a sterile man anymore, not officially. There are only women who are fruitful and women who are barren, that’s the law… Give me children, or else I die. Offred isn’t getting pregnant because the Commander is sterile, which means he is unable to bare children. And if the Aunts find out that Offred isn’t getting pregnant they will punish her instead or they will take her to the Colonies, where handmaids go to die if they have not fulfilled their duties or having children.

The resolution of the story is Serena Joy, the Commanders wife, finds out about when the Commander took Offred out and she used her cloak to make it seem like she was a wife. Offred is being called nasty names by Serena and a black van comes for Offred and she doesn’t know what is going to happen to her.

One of the major characters is Offred who is one of the handmaids, she changes her perspective on life because she wishes that she could go back to her normal life before the Gilead and the handmaids. Offred at times remembers how her normal life was and compares it to her life now, and she wishes her life didn’t change at all. In The Handmaid’s Tale, it states, “The guards…two by two around the football field, which was enclosed now by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire… That was our fantasy”. In the Gilead, the handmaids are trapped in the barbed wire fence and Offred describes this imprisonment their “fantasy”.

Two themes found in the book are love should be cherished and no matter how dark anything gets you can get past it. The first theme is love should be cherished because throughout the story Offred is always talking about the past and talking about how much she misses and loves her family. The second theme is no matter how dark anything gets, you can get past it because Offred has been through so much and that she is always getting through it. Offred know by just sitting there and doing nothing is not going to solve anything.

The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in the Republic of Gilead, where there are Aunts, Martas, Handmaids, Commanders, and the Commanders wives wear different colors to determine status. The main character tells her story from the past and in the present. In the beginning, Offred talks about how the handmaid’s stay in the gymnasium in their army cots with a barbed wire fence surrounding them making sure they don’t escape. Having strong security is important in the Gilead. The next day Offred goes down to the kitchen where Rita, the cook (Martha), gives her the tokens so she can buy the groceries. When the handmaids go to walk, they walk in pairs so they “catch up” on what they are both doing, Offred’s partner is Ofglen. They walk to the grocery store together and Offred sees ladies from all different status walking to do their duties. Once Offred and Ofglen get to the grocery store they get all their necessities that Rita told her to get. After, Offred gets back from her shopping and is allowed to watch T. V. with the Commander’s wife, who she later learns that she say her on a T. V. show and her name was Serena Joy. Serena Joy warns Offred that the Ceremony is just business and that she should leave her husband alone and not communicate to him in any way. The next day Offred sees the Diver, whose name is Nick, and he winks at her and she start suspecting if he is and Eye, a spy, because he winked. The guards are forbidden to make eye contact or touch the handmaid’s and Offred tries to move her hips more so she can get their attention and have sexual tension. Later, the Ceremony came around and the Ceremony is when it the time of the month that the Handmaid is the most fertile.

After the Ceremony, Offred lays on her bed thinking how much she misses Luke, her husband, and her daughter and her old life. Then, Nick went to go tell Offred, that the Commander wants Offred to go meet him at his office, but no women has entered his office not even his wife. Offred grows worried on why the Commander wants to see her. Then the night came to go meet the Commander and all her wanted was to play scrabble and a goodnight kiss. Later Moria, Offred closest friends, grows missing and Offred grows worried where she is. She finds out that Moria escaped the Gilead, Offred is worried that Moria would be caught and punished. When Offred went to see the Commander, he surprised her with a magazine which are forbidden because handmaids aren’t allowed to read. Therefore, Offred leaves the magazine I his office so she won’t get in trouble. A few days later, the Ceremony occurs again and Offred doesn’t feel uncomfortable since she’s been spending a lot of time with the Commander and it’s the same with him being more comfortable with her. The next day, Offred and Ofglen are walking and they end up talking instead of being silent, they are getting to know each other more than usual. Being in the Commanders office again Offred had a phrase in Latin engraved in her room and she finally had the courage to ask him what it meant and he replied that it is a nonsense phrase and not to worry about it. In the next few days, Serena Joy stops Offred and tells her to sit and knit with her and she tells her that Ofwarren became pregnant.

Later in the story Offred goes in the past and remembers how Luke and her daughter were leaving out of the country to go into Canada to escape from the Gilead. Afterwards, Offred went to the Commanders office and he had a surprise that he was going to take Offred out. Offred becomes worried because she might get caught and punished, so the Commander gives her a fake pass. While looking around Offred goes to the bathroom and she sees Moria and Offred get emotional to see her again. Moria tells her that she is still passing for an Aunt and how she escaped and scared of what to do next. This is the last time Moria and Offred will see each other again. Serena starts suspecting that the Commander is sterile, and she decides to have Nick impregnate her. After making love with Nick, Offred starts getting more attached to Nick and frequently visits him. The next day, Offred sees that Ofglen isn’t there, it’s another girl and when asked she said that she was Ofglen and she wonders what happened with the other Ofglen. In the end, Serena finds out that the Commander took Offred out and calls her brutal names and a black van comes up to the house and takes Offred and she doesn’t know if she is going to die or get brutally punished.

I would recommend The Handmaid’s Tale because its dark and has a lot of conflicts. I really enjoyed this book because it is really interesting how women are taken advantage of and how they treat them like slaves, who are only useful for being a surrogate. Others would like it because just imagine having your modern and regular day life just taken away in a short period of time. Also, the main character, Offred explains that before you become a handmaid, the Aunts manipulate you to have the right mindset of a handmaid.

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Analysis And Plot Summary Of The Handmaid’S Tale By Margaret Atwood. (2020, March 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from
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