31st August 2017


Our reading experience is heightened when we care about the fate of our protagonist

Discuss the extent to which you agree

We can’t empathise as we haven’t been through these situations, struggle to connect, loss of freedom, she is a women, had a kid, 33 years old, used to be a librarian, educated women, has life experiences, harder for us, get older more afraid to die, 18 life isn’t serious, relationships



  1. Language
  2. Setting


  1. Outcomes
  2. Investment
  3. Empathy
  4. New environment

We care for her because of what she has to deal with

What does she have to deal with?


  1. Lack of freedom (movement)
  2. Control of women
  3. Control through fear

In the HMT, the reader may not like Offred, but cares for her (which in turn heightens the reading experience) because we can empathise with her and her change in setting. Gilead strips women of;

  • Freedom of movement
  • Control over their sexuality
  • A life without ‘fear’

Unfairly persecuted because of the Gilead regime

We are living in a democratic world in 2017

We are able to express my sexuality freely in any way that I want, men are not superior to women

We live a life without surveillance

No hidden agendas, the commander and offred’s relationship

Discrepancies between our life and hers

Difference between our world and hers, and how we end up caring for her

For a text to be successful, elements of the setting must be recognisable

(author’s message)

HMT was successful as Atwood’s message of a warning was received. But, setting too vastly different. How?


  • Author’s warning of being aware of future dystopia

Elements of setting

  1. Control through fear
  2. Control of sexuality
  3. Control of movement
  4. Control of language

So different to our world.. Unrecognisable, but still receive message


The most challenging ideas in a text are found in the detail

Challenging ideas: Themes, settings, author’s purpose: a warning

Detail: Setting, narrative, themes: control

Freedom, the world we are progressing towards in denial of, I agree with this as it constantly giving us a warning of what is to come

Challenging Ideas

  • Standard for dystopian
  • Genre = a warning of our potential future
  • Relate to trump/ technology


  • Setting which presents
  1. Control through fear – Atwood confronting us with an idea of a potential for our future society “it’s happened before,..”, She wrote when the Berlin wall was being constructed
  2. Control through language
  3. Control through movement


  • Quotes
  • All serve to highlight a comparison between our world and Offred’s

A successful text helps us to think but doesn’t tell us what to do

Gets us to think about our future, but not what to do, Offred’s attitude stimulates you to think what we would do, doesn’t tell us

What is successful?

Agree *******

Taught us things we never knew had gone on/ is going on

Atwood’s challenge – for us to consider our future = Typical of genre, it acts as a warning

Talking about stuff that is real, ignorant to think it’s not

  1. Hinting in relation to setting
  2. Protagonist – weak, capitulates (Personal dialogue with reader that compares and contrasts our world with hers), through her dialogue, glorified whore, has sex with a man, doesn’t go against anything in comparison to Moira, what happens to Moira when she goes against it?, possibly more broken, questioning our opinion of Offred
  3. Allusions (Past vs. present – Offred’s world)

All of these elements of dystopian literature to consider but not necessarily to act upon

Setting – characters that have to abide with constant surveillance, rules

Gives us a warning

Deliberately makes Offred helpless, theme of control

She was frustrating, but there was a purpose to it, makes it a dystopia, she is an anti hero because she survives, taking her own life would be the easiest way out, not exceptionally brave, strong but keeps going, heroic quality in itself

All experienced via Offred

  1. Control of movement
  2. Control of fear
  3. Control of language

My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it’s forbidden. I tell myself it doesn’t matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter.

Practise paragraph:

A successful text helps us to think, but doesn’t tell us what to do.

Possible intro: Atwood delivers a successful message, through her skilful illustration of control of movement in the setting of Gilead. She also does this depicting the control of fear shown in the protagonist Offred, and control of language seen through the allusions utilised throughout the text. This message is one that allows the reader to be warned about a very possible future for us, but does not directly tell us what to do. This proves to be a much more effective way of delivering a message and therefore earning it’s label as a successful text.

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.” Atwood portrays her message predominantly through the protagonist, Offred’s character. Offred is what could be described as an anti-hero, unfairly prosecuted for crossing the border in Canada with her husband and young child. She is thrown into a new life as a handmaid, stripped of her freedom and only valued for her reproductive organs, the ability to produce offspring for the commander and his wife. Offred is restricted in terms of her movement to only being allowed out of the commander’s house if she is supervised by ‘eyes’ all over the state, and accompanied by another handmaid communicating only in biblical terms. The ‘eyes’ represent the presence of the state in the people of Gilead’s lives, a chilling warning of what our future could realistically consist of. The Handmaid’s Tale was written in 1985, yet the message is still relevant to us today. By purposely making Offred’s character describe to us in detail, the tragedy of what is happening to her, although sometimes can be regarded by critical readers as tiring, is essential to make us think. By Atwood’s control of Offred’s movement, as a reader I was able to recognise what she was trying to identify in terms of our future society. In our generation particularly, social media is a huge part of our lives. We can be traced, located and defined by the things we post. Also, regardless of who we choose to share this information with, in reality we can still be tracked by anyone. Therefore, the text is successful as it is making us think about what would happen if a governmental system like Gilead were to arise. On first read, people may think that it could never happen to or affect us, but when we see the way Offred’s freedom is controlled, we can see how likely this would be to take effect in our future.

Our reading experience is heightened when we care about the fate of our protagonist



Respond now!