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“The Handmaid’s Tale” a Novel by Margaret Atwood Essay


Introduction

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a well-known dystopian novel which portrays a patriarchal totalitarian society that follows misogynistic values based on female subjugation. The protagonist Offred experiences fear and uncertainty in how to adapt to her new life, in a way being complacent toward the abuse through her submission to the social order. In the novel, Moira acts as a foil to Offred, choosing to openly defend her rights and beliefs despite the potential dangers. As a result, Moira’s experience serves as a lasting life lesson for Offred, indicating that passive resistance and surrender have more strategic value in their fight for survival than open rebellion against an oppressive system.

Moira’s Influence

Moira is Offred’s good and trusted friend. Despite their vastly different personalities and outlooks on life, it is obvious that Offred respects and cares for Moira. In return, Moira is protective and supportive of her friends. In the novel, Moira is open about her sexual orientation and feminist-oriented views. She understood the direction that society was heading and the true intentions of Gilead’s conservative government.

From the very beginning, Moira is ready for the upcoming struggle, audaciously prepared to fight for her rights. From Offred’s accounts of their time at the Center, Moira shows a strong will to survive by maintaining her composure and emotional strength while many of the women were devastated in the life of imprisonment and abuse. This allows Moira to maintain her characteristic sense of clarity about the crisis and strive towards achieving freedom. “Freedom, like everything else, is relative” (Atwood 231). Moira adheres to her own perspective on individual and collective freedom for women which drives her to make a tremendously risky escape. It not only serves as an act of liberation but clearly shows that the authoritarian regime has its weaknesses and can be defied.

After Moira’s heroic escape from the Center, she becomes an idol to many of the women. Known for her direct opposition to the system, she had already become a voice of resistance and freedom amongst the women around her. This came about not only due to her daring escape, but the constant example Moira served the women. Through her resistance, she showed encouragement and support for all women, proving to them that they have self-respect worth fighting for. “Moira was our fantasy…she was the lava beneath the crust of daily life. In the light of Moira, the Aunts were less fearsome and more absurd. Their power had a flaw to it” (Atwood 125). To Moira, every method of resistance stood as an indestructible symbol which continues to inspire others even after her disappearance.

Impact on Offred’s Survival

For the protagonist, Moira represented a beacon of hope and bravery. Even lacking these qualities, Offred still had faith due to seeing them exemplified in her friend. Despite her audacious behavior, Moira had common sense which she shared with Offred, teaching her to care, reason, and believe in what is right even through constant attempts at government indoctrination. After witnessing the victims of brutal executions by the regime, Offred recalls, “ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to.

This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary” (Atwood 43). The protagonist’s conformity does not impact her morality, as she is still inherently revolted by such tragedy. Her emotions, curiosity, actions, and existence serve as an act of passive resistance and danger to a patriarchal society that wants to indoctrinate women into being useful for nothing more than submission and breeding.

Moira acts as a foil to Offred, choosing the outward display of resistance and risky behavior, while the protagonist does everything in her power to avoid attention or punishment. She is a representation of the general female population before the revolution, who was never driven by feministic ideology. Though it could be interpreted as cowardice, Offred’s caution eventually pays off when the government captures and mentally breaks Moira. Offred chooses to use conformity as her mechanism of survival. Eventually, when her time comes to take a risk, she chooses to trust Nick, and the reader is left to assume she was able to escape in order to record the tapes.

Conclusion

Moira is a critical secondary and supporting character in The Handmaiden’s Tale. Her ambition for freedom and resistance against the misogynistic government regime serves as an inspiration of courage and morality for the protagonist. However, driven by the devastating experiences of Moira and other women who chose to resist openly, Offred uses the knowledge she was taught to practice passive resistance, caution, and calculated risk as a means of survival.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Seal Books, 1986.

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IvyPanda. (2020, October 31). "The Handmaid's Tale" a Novel by Margaret Atwood. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-handmaids-tale-a-novel-by-margaret-atwood/

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""The Handmaid's Tale" a Novel by Margaret Atwood." IvyPanda, 31 Oct. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-handmaids-tale-a-novel-by-margaret-atwood/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Handmaid's Tale" a Novel by Margaret Atwood." October 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-handmaids-tale-a-novel-by-margaret-atwood/.


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IvyPanda. ""The Handmaid's Tale" a Novel by Margaret Atwood." October 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-handmaids-tale-a-novel-by-margaret-atwood/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Handmaid's Tale" a Novel by Margaret Atwood." October 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-handmaids-tale-a-novel-by-margaret-atwood/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Handmaid's Tale" a Novel by Margaret Atwood'. 31 October.

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