The Handmaid's Tale

Sexual Violence Against Women 12th Grade

Atwood writes from the perspective of Offred, the protagonist in the novel. This narrative perspective makes all the horrific things that occur in Gilead so much more visceral to the reader as we develop a personal relationship with Offred. Whatever is said in the novel are Offred’s actual thoughts and memories and we therefore have an insight into what concerns her but ultimately this is what concerns Atwood as she uses Offred as a mouthpiece for her own beliefs.

To a certain extent Atwood does aim to really stress sexual violence against women in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. The most poignant scene to support this is the night of the ceremony. The first line of Chapter 16 begins “The Ceremony goes as usual” which instantly highlights how the horrid act is ritualized and normalized in that society and the capitalization of the word “Ceremony” signifies how important it is and how this is what Gilead is centered around. The chapter goes on to say that the Commander is “fucking” Offred. It’s a very severe word to use, derogatory even, a word that some people would not dare to breathe aloud. The word was chosen to implicate the severity of the ceremony and the repetition of it connotes the distress that Offred is feeling in the present...

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