In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, offred goes through many changes throughout her experience in Gilead. This book illustrates how quickly the freedom is taken away from people. We experience the new changes of the world in Gilead through her perspective.
Offred’s life before Gilead is when she had all the freedom and her own identity. (Margaret Atwood,84) “My name isn’t offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it’s forbidden.” Offred’s identity serves as one of the biggest strength she had before, but now its erased and instead, she has a new name. This reveals that Handmaids are considered as Unimportant and as close as they are almost invisible. She was strong and independent women who didn’t rely on her husband for money instead she worked. When The Republic of Gilead formed its own dystopian society.
A society that results in dictatorship and oppression of individual involving class division and poverty. In this novel, dystopian society makes the reader involved in thinking about reality and fearful possible future. During the change in the society, Offred got separated from her daughter and husband. She was then sent to Red center to change her identity as a Handmaid.
The idea of not being able to express yourself to others, (Margaret Atwood,29) He asked, “Are you happy?” Offred replies “Yes, we are happy.” When the Japanese tourists ask Offred if she was happy and Offred said “yes,” it explains the limitation of what one can say to another as well as attempt to be safe. This particular quote reminds her of the freedom that she had before and now she lacks them.
Offred now struggles through this new world and to survive she has to do what it takes to keep herself alive. In this new society, everything seems different to Offred from taking a shower to living in a house with strangers. One of the most struggles that Offred had to go through was adapting the new rules and regulation of Gilead. She has been brainwashed by the Aunts, who are supposed to brainwash and train them to be Handmaids. (Margaret Atwood, 24) As Aunt Lydia said, “There is more than one kind of freedom, freedom to and freedom from.” Before Gilead Offred had the freedom to do anything she wants, but now she has freedom from sexist catcall and potential abuse from strangers. Aunt Lydia argues that they should be graceful about such freedoms rather than complaining about the freedoms that they had lost. This shows Offred after being brainwashed, her way of thinking had changed and she had adapted to the reality.
She understands the idea of freedom from and freedom to, but she doesn’t want to accept it fully. As she experienced the new changes, she tried to change herself by secretly rebelling against the government. “As long as we do this, butter our skin to keep it soft…. We have ceremonies of our own, private ones” ( Margaret Atwood, 96). By stealing butter, and then using it as replacement of lotion, this significant act tells the reader that Offred has adapted the environment. Everyone else had their own way of rebelling and so did Offred.
Ever since Gilead took over the United States, Offered changed by learning ways to secretly rebel against the government without anyone knowing. She had gone through a lot of chances, for example, meeting with the commander and playing scrabble. Moreover, visiting Jezebels. Later in the book, she gets intimate with Nick. Day by day her fear vanishes, yet she still wonders where Luck and her daughter are. As her physical needs are been satisfied, she still lacks love.
“I do not say making love because this is not what he’s doing. Copulating too would be inaccurate because it would… there wasn’t a lot of choices but there was some, and that is what I choose (Margaret Atwood,94).” One of the reasons Gilead was created was to protect women from sexual harassment. Offred explains that there aren’t many choices, but she is forced to sleep with the Commander in order to survive. She doesn’t feel love while sleeping with the Commander, she has accepted to the reality that she can’t do anything about it or she would get killed. Nick is another example before she gets intimate with Nick, she wanted to go back in past, but now Nick causes Offered to comply with the society. “The fact is that I no longer want to leave, escape, cross the border to freedom, I want to be here, with Nick, where I can get him” (Margaret Atwood, 271).
The connection between them is just intimacy, the idea of her escaping became more plausible, she develops more feeling for him. This gives her a reason to stay even though it would be impossible to escape.In Conclusion, as Offred goes through many changes, she ends up changing herself according to the situation. She faces many changes throughout the novel.
She learned how to rebel secretly with other Handmaid such as Ofglen. She was part of underground and May Day. She changed completely after sleeping with Nick, which made her release that she has a feeling for him and doesn’t want to leave him. Nick become the reason that made Offred stay in Gilded, not that she had any other choice. She replaces Luck with Nick, she changed herself into thinking that Nick is Luck. Nick satisfied her needs, her new feeling that she belongs to someone and he is waiting for her to knock at the door.
Offred went through physical, psychological and emotional phases throughout the novel.