The Republic of Gilead has suppressed the freedom of women but through reminiscence of the past Offred is able to rebel against society Atwood does this in order to show how women in society are never truly free as they are constantly fighting for equality. The author uses flashback to make the reader understand what happened to Offred in the past because readers are unfamiliar with her life in the past.”We learned to whisper almost without sound.
In the semi darkness we would stretch out our arms, when the Aunts weren’t looking, and touch each other’s hands across space. We learned to lip-read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other’s mouths”( pg 4). The handmaids whisper to one another so that they can exchange information and engage in a conversation to keep the nature of relationships between people alive. It’s very lonely for these women since they cannot say what is on their mind because Gilead posseses complete control.
As Offred remembers her past the readers understand how her life in the past contasts towards her life in the present with the control of Gilead. “I remember the rules, rules that were never spelled out but that every woman knew: don’t open your door to a stranger, even if he says he is the police. Make him slide his ID under the door. Don’t stop on the road to help a motorist pretending to be in trouble” (pg 24). There is a use of diction to reveal in detail how in the past she was free to be educated and wore whatever she pleased and now with a complete lack of freedom she dreams to do simple things. Offred’s reflection on life before Gilead is the only real sense of power she has and through flashbacks, the readers are able to understand her life before Gilead and how much freedom she possessed in the past. I have to let you go, he said it’s the law, I have to. I have to let you all go.
He said this almost gently, as if we were wild animals, frogs he’d caught, and a jar, as if he were being humane (pg 176). By having these flashbacks she is rebelling against society as she is unable to take control of Gilead but she is able to take control of her memories and reminise the happy memories she’s experienced in the past to have some power. One of the many sad aspects of The Handmaid’s Tale is that the women who are victims of abuse and oppression soon comply with the roles that have been assigned to them, by permitting abuse against and amongst themselves. In the Republic of Gilead the regime has taken away any sort of freedom that women had in the past to obtain superior power and control. “I must forget about my secret name and all the ways back. My name is offred now, and here is where I live.
Live in the present make the most of it, it’s all you’ve got. Time to sleep” (pg 143). This quote applies to the motif that corresponds with identity to reveal how Offred is falling to the suppressive ways of the republic by valuing her very own name as worthless. Not only has Gilead taken women’s freedom but they have taken away their identity as they are forced to use the name of their owner to place restraints on them and to show society how men are the ones who hold power. “All those women having jobs: hard to imagine, now, but thousands of them had jobs, millions. It was considered the normal thing. Now it’s like remembering the paper money, when they still had that” (Pg 173). Women are no longer allowed to obtain jobs as it is now against the law but Offred reveals how before the creation of Gilead women were allowed to work.
Offred realizes how women are treated much more dictroial than men as they are required to wear uniforms and categorized into factions. “There are other women with baskets, some in red, some in the dull green of the Marthas, some in the striped dresses, red and blue and green and cheap and skimp, that mark the women of the poorer men. Econowives, they’re called. These women are not divided into functions. They have to do everything; if they can” (pg 24). Atwood uses Narrators point of view so Offred can tell the story of Gilead and how the Republic operates so readers understand how confining it is to be a woman living under the rules of Gilead.
The way that Gilead has divided women reveals how women are not respected as they are meant to do what they are told in order to keep them at a lower social standing compared to men. In the Handmaid’s Tale Atwood created a dystopian society to show how women are confined and oppressed of their freedom in order to reveal how women are not equivalent to men. The Republic of Gilead is a dystopic society, especially for the women. Women in the novel are stripped of their freedom, while men are entitled to take complete control of their freedom as they are believed to be the superior sex compared to the women of Gilead. This novel illustrates inequality towards women The Handmaid’s Tale guarantees that readers understand the victims of society, and who is in charge.
Men hold all the power while women are just a fragment of what seems to make Gilead function properly. The women are a source of recreation that are used for sex and a form of possession. Atwood focuses on the choices made by those controlling the society of Gilead in which increasing the population and the preservation of mankind is the main bjective instead of possesion any sort of freedom or happiness for their citizens. Through the use of confinement and oppression Gilead successfully succeeds to make sure that both men and women are divided so that women are seen as having less power then men.