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A Handmaid’s Tale
The novel a handmaid’s tale is written by an award winning writer Margaret Atwood, apart from being a writer she is known to be a poet, and teacher her expertise on literary critics and essay writing are highly professional. This Canadian writer has won a number of awards for her work including lifetime achievement awards as well. This novel sheds light to one of the most crucial problems of the past which is still going on in different forms such as gender inequality, male dominancy, sexual harassment and class system.
In this novel the writer discusses the life of a handmaid named Offred. Handmaids were females especially from lower class backgrounds that were treated as a slave for the purpose of bearing the pregnancy and birth of children for the rich couples who faced complications in conceiving a baby. This story depicts the life of Offred worst than any slave can every have which she bears with a hope that she might get freedom someday. She becomes a victim of the brutality from her owners every day. She is forced to have sexual intercourse with her commander especially in the peak time of her periods so that she can conceive the baby as soon as possible. Furthermore she is not alone in the room the commander’s wife is always in the room during this activity to keep her hands tied in order to make sure that she doesn’t perform any act of resistant. The Offred is kept under strict supervision and control in order to make sure that she doesn’t escape the territory. She cannot go out according to her own will, nor she can sleep in complete privacy as the couple or the police forces of Gilead kept a strict watch on her every public move.
These handmaids are depicted in the story as to be known by the name of their owner. For instance the word "of" in the name of Offred means that this maid belongs to Fred. Offred as she steps in the flashback discusses that how she got married to a guy named Luke who divorced his own wife to marry her. They later became parents of a daughter and decided to move towards some place in Canada. The main reason behind taking this decision was after noticing the rapidly increasing trend of gender discrimination, pornography and hiring prostitutes. These things became common in the time when pollution and excess use of chemicals resulted in decreasing the fertility rate. Due to the ongoing violence on females, the females were also restricted from owning any kind of property or employment. Offred and her family was captured at borders during their escape and separated in a way that they never got a chance to witness each other again.
The couple got divorced as Offred ended up in the re-education center serving the purpose of practicing and implementing the ideology of Gilead. Aunt Lydia was responsible to teach the females how to become handmaids. Despite of being a female herself she is shown to be in favor of the ideology brought by Gilead and according to her if a women stays under the dominancy of a male she receives more respect that any independent women can get. The Offred often received offer from her doctor to develop a sexual relationship with him, as being a slave her position is very crucial and she can get caught if things get worse by any chance. She was also hesitated because according to Aunt Lydia she was honored when she was selected to become a handmaid. The life she was living as an Offred not only demanded freedom but also the rights of being a human being. Her freedom was not guaranteed even after her escape, no matter how hard she tried. As she explains in the novel when she sheds light on the dreadful days of her past, she explains how she was used constantly as a sex slave for a rich couple. She mentions about the dreadful feeling that she used to get every time by sitting in a room filled with loneliness which was also the place where she was used for sexual activity.
Margaret Atwood as being a female showed how a woman is tortured and used by the male gender for their own personal benefits and advantages. Offred and other females despite of being aware that they are being called for a sexual activity were helpless. They had to have sex with anyone that their owner demands without saying a word against their will. The writer in the voice of Offred seeks freedom but hesitates as she knows about the countless restrictions under which she was living. Her every single action was being monitored by the couple and their other servants in the house and by the police forces of Gilead when she was outside to shop for the house. Her escape in the last was supported by Nick who was working with an under covered society serving the purpose of helping the females and planning a revolution against the ideology of Gilead. Nick’s plan of getting Offred out from the house of the commander turned out to be successful as she departs with the people who came to save her from the same society. However the threat of getting caught and getting punished was still there until she reaches a safe place.
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