Presentation and importance of “The Handmaids Tale”
The presentation of this scene is very effective and descriptive. It is presented well and tells us a lot about the type of society that these people live in.
We can tell by the way it is written and portrayed that it is a very secretive society. People feel scared and are suspicious and “hesitant” of anyone who they are not closely acquainted. This is also continuously backed up through out the novel. It is showed by the re-occurrence of the “spies” and the way that Moira is not allowed to talk to her shopping partner.
We can see the miserable and dull atmosphere by the first line, when we discover that the women are fed up and “don’t smile”. The “women” are also very uncomfortable with Offred being there and are very unwelcoming.
There are also a lot of short, sharp sentences at the start of the extract. This creates tension and sets the mood for the rejoining of these old friends. It is obvious that the friends are very close and have been for a long time by the way they insult each other. Friends that are not to close do not call each other insults such as “whores”.
The smoky atmosphere could be seen as being a metaphor. It is ironic that it is smoky and the women in there cannot really see the rest of their lives clearly.
There is also a simile within this small extract. The ladies room within Jezebels is described, as being “like backstage”. This is also ironic, as this type of lifestyle seems completely fake and unreal. This is also reverberated throughout the book by some of the beliefs held by people. Such as it is morally right to give women one purpose, and those women who cannot fulfil it could be sent away or even killed.
We also learn that this society is very tacky and sleazy. We see this by looking at the sleazy “cat suits”, “fake fur” and the “wired” bras.
This extract is also important in relation to the rest of the novel. It follows many themes and leads us onto finding out main events within the novel.
This event takes place just after a long string of meetings by the commander and Offred. These meetings create tension within the book as they are forbidden and they would both be in a great deal of trouble if they were caught. However at these meetings they just play scrabble and talk. It is as if the commander longs for a true companion.
The extract also continues themes of the book. By reading the book you get the impression that this is a very strange society to live in, and this extract provides no exception. The women have dressed up in suits such as “cat suits” and are wearing “orange fake fur”. This is a strange taste in clothes, and shows the strange beliefs and tastes of the commanders.
We also learn more about discretion and how serious it is to people. Offred feels “hesitant” as she enters the toilet. She also feels it would be “unsafe” to ask about Moira. This shows she is worried about being in a toilet in her own community and does not feel safe. She also feels as if she has no freedom, as she is frightened to talk. This is echoed throughout the book.
The theme of women just being objects and having no freedom is also displayed. It is obvious from their tone that the women do not wish to be dressed like this but have no choice. Woman’s only job in this society is to reproduce. This is shown in chapter three. The commander’s wives knit scarves for the angels, but the commanders make them do it so it “gives them a sense of purpose”.
Offred is kept like a prisoner, even though she has committed no crime whatsoever. Even when they are allowed out of the house on shopping trips etc they have to travel in twos and cannot speak to one another.
Dystopia is a theme that is constantly referred to throughout the novel. Dystopia is an imperfect world with a lot of faults and problems. Gilead is the perfect example of this. The views that the ruler’s hold and the actions take out would be seen as immoral and unjust in this day an age.
We also discover a lot about the characters and what they are like. Moira is dressed quite provocatively, and seems to be quite confident. This is shown throughout the rest of the novel. She is constantly portrayed as a rebel from the start when we are first introduced to her. However she has now conformed and obeys the rules. This is quite interesting that even the strongest character can be broken down by the harsh regime.
We also see how close the friendship is between Offred and Moira. The friends had not met for a long time and they tightly hug and kiss when they meet in the ladies room. They have a special bond as friends and have obviously missed each other.
Offred is quite a quiet character and seems to keep her inner feelings well hidden. She is forced into going to Jezebels and does not really like all of this synthetic hype.
This is an important extract as it leads us onto the development of the plot. Relationships soon develop between Offred and the commander. It leads on too more intimate meetings between her and the commander. After jezebels they have sex outside of the ceremony. This is a big part of the plot as this is a huge sin and a big crime.
The development of that relationship makes Serena Joy jealous and she wants to be rid of Offred. She figures that the only way to do this is to make Offred pregnant. Therefore she sets up numerous meetings between Nick and Offred. However the young couple fall slowly in love and gradually get closer.
Overall this extract provides us with a lot of information and is a starting point for many new developments within the novel.