Offred is the storyteller and the leading role of the novel, and we are narrated to the whole tale from her opinion, recognizing happenings and reminiscences as vibrantly as she does. She narrates the chronicles as it occurs, and illustrates to us the journeys of her mind via flashbacks and parentheses. She is clever, insightful, and kind. She has sufficient liabilities to make her human, but not so numerous that she turns into an insensitive individual. She also entails a sinister sense of humor that is a cemetery wit that creates her accounts of the dreary terrors of Gilead tolerable, even pleasant. Similar to the majority of the women in Gilead, she is a normal woman situated in a strange position. I believe that Offred is both a villain and a heroine to some extend. This is so because of being an unconventional protagonist and her passivity, she is not worthy of being a heroine, but at the same time her passivity makes her survive to fight another day.
Though she opposes Gilead silently, once her effort in escaping thwarts, she surrenders outwardly. She is hardly a feminist victor; she had constantly felt sore with her mother’s activism, and her pre-Gilead association with Luke commenced when she became his mistress, seeing him in contemptible lodges for coitus. Although comrades with Ofglen, an affiliate of the resistance, she is on no account brave enough to sign up. In reality, following her affair with Nick, she appears to mislay prospect of escape completely and abruptly believes that life in Gilead is nearly endurable. Finally if she does getaway, it is because of Nick, not because of anything she does on her own. She is typically an inert personality, benevolent but self-satisfied. Resembling her peers, she assumed the liberties feminism triumphed and now pays the cost.
Offred is a Handmaid in the state of Gilead; while she appears miserable about this, she is perplexed about her personality and even begins to submit to the responsibility that has been compelled upon her. It appears bizarre that one may admit such drastic modifications so effortlessly. She is easily maneuvered into supposing that this ominous scheme was intended for her own benefit. Peter S. Prescott states that Offred initially acknowledges promise that the fresh order is for her security (151). She ought to lie on her rear once every month and expect that the commander makes her expectant since her solitary function is to operate as a vessel. She even begins to quantify her sense of worth by the feasibility of her ovaries and this unconstructively influences her personality. “The commander is …… What he is fucking is the lower fraction of my body. I do not utter making love since that is not what he is making. Copulating too would be imprecise as it would entail two individuals, when there is simply one. Neither does rape wrap it. Not a thing was happening here that I have not lined up for. There were not lots of choices, but there was a little and this is what I opted for.” (Atwood 121) .This declaration is absurd and is not something worth saying especially from a heroine. I totally disagree that she is a heroine. She rationalizes the infringements against her. And to crown it all, by stating it as an option she has transferred the guilt from her tormenters to herself and tagged the obvious offense as a meager rite.
Offred demonstrates marks of a mounting victim mentality where she admits defeat and links the command’s determination with her own. The risk lies in her satisfaction since if she recognizes this position as being her pick she abolishes any requirement to revolt. This state of mind offers her a fake sense of sanctuary which will obstruct her aptitude to fight back. We can attempt to dispute that Offred’s reluctance to oppose owed to trepidation, but there is more. In the narrative she is frightened that “eyes” are all over and that trust is a misplaced opulence (Atwood 122).
Perhaps she was frightened to fight by herself. This looks comprehensible, but Offred’s reluctance to retaliate is more complex than just fear. By accepting her job in the new society, she blurs her insight of liberty and her necessitation to revolt at all. Ehrenreich argues that Offred weeps a lot and exists in terror of finding her previous husband suspended from a hook on the wall, but when she spoken to by the opposition she is peculiarly indifferent (155). She continues that her disinclination to cuddle the rebellion is owed to her transformed frame of mind; the scheme has been entrenched in her. So we cannot articulate she is trapped in this unaccompanied, others have showed their willingness to fight. It is her modified nature and approval of social evils that weaken her.
Gayle Greene names her a Good German more willingly than a freedom fighter. He says unlike Moira she does not have the radical bubbling in her. She lacks Moira’s strength (159). “, I do not desire her to be similar to me. Surrender; follow, save herself. I want courage from her, boasting heroism. Something I am short of” (Atwood, 327). From this Offred admits herself that she is not strong but at least she recognizes herself with rebels. But, she is moreover too frightened or too confused. Or she desires others to fight for her. Does this not make her a coward?
Now we ought to examine the manner Offred endeavors to stand up for herself and the motives why she decides to fight. Gilead has tried to eliminate any impression of the corrupt history, but they fell short to perceive that you cannot annihilate the memoirs of the heart. It is painless to rob somebody of something they on no account had, but it’s nearly impracticable to expunge something that people have previously experienced; freedom. Offred might demonstrate marks of compliance, but her old self won’t go out devoid of a struggle. She has reminiscences of a life that was shredded from her. She can memorize years prior to, when she had a spouse and baby, when she had a profession, wealth, and accessibility to information. All of these facts clash her insight of Gilead and encourages her to rebel to acquire them back. She is fighting to maintain her precedent alive and not be engrossed in completely by the arrangement that controls her. Her motivation originates from acknowledging she is living, and the objective that she must stay alive if she is to see a new day. She harbors an indistinct love, anticipation, and wish to glimpse at her daughter and husband one day.
So she must stay alive for their sake because she requires thinking that they are alive. Her visions and truth become tangled and this makes her struggle for her wisdom. Offred brawls to maintain her serenity. She claims “wisdom is a precious possession; I keep it, so I will have sufficient when the time approaches” (Atwood, 140). Thus Offred survives, as normal, by disregarding the resistance. But without people knowing her rebellion she starts standing up for herself.
For instance according to Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, she discerns better and that she comprehends the psychology of oppression and senses guilt for submitting (147). She acquires a stand and chooses to bear with connotation and attempt to describe her own being. She recognizes her humanity and perceives the requirement in trying to uphold it. So endurance is more than just surviving it, but, also why you chose to stick it out. Offred might not be a fighter for freedom on the front line, but she discovers means of thumbing her snout at the system. That is why she undergoes a sense of triumph and even a vicious sense of contentment in flouting the decrees and devoid of others knowing. It gives her logic of power. She may be horrified, but there are these tiny ruptures of confrontation that assemble up her courage.
In conclusion it is true that an important attribute of Offred was her reluctance to stick her neck out and maybe we are destined to conclude that such disinclination, multiplied, may be deadly to a free society. The position of a rebel is vital when it appears to generating change, but it is the majority’s approval that decides what changes will actually last. A rebel like Offred had to triumph an inner battle in order to establish a peripheral one. Offred won this clash and chose that her humanity was worth the threat and Atwood desires us to do the same. From where I stand I believe that she, Offred, Is a heroine.
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. McClelland and Stewart, 1985
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt. Atwood Novel Too Brutal, Sexist. , 2009.
Ehrenreich, Linda. “Special Delivery: Twenty-First Century Epistolary in the Handmaid’s Tale.” Writing the Female Voice: Essays on Epistolary Literature. Boston: Northeastern UP, 1989.
Gayle Greene. Romance Plot in Margaret Atwood’s the Handmaid’s Tale.” Twentieth Century Literature, 1991.
Peter S. Prescott. The Handmaid’s Tale: Working Bibliography. Department of English, University of Tennessee at Martin, 2009