Moreover, Offred is constantly looking for a way out, as she is hopeful that there is a resistance fighting back. She refers to this in one of her many daydreams, where she hopes for her husband, who disappeared during the overtake: “He made contact with the others; there must be a resistance, a government in exile. Someone must be out there, taking care of things. I believe in the resistance, I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather no shadow unless there is also light.
” (Atwood 130) Though she does not know anything for certain, the thought of him, her husband, fighting back and the hope that she may one day join him and the others – combined with her rebellious actions – gives Offred strength to move forward with her life. Very much also a non- conformist is Offred’s long lost friend Moira. Moira was also forced into the role of a Handmaid; though, after a short period of time she became lethargic and, through a faking an illness, snuck out of the household that she had been staying at and found herself at Jezebels (an illegal strip club).
Moira found her drive in becoming her own person, very unique from the conformed people, especially women that the government created. She was a powerful female character who stood up for herself and did what she had to, to get her way: “Moira had power now, she’d been set loose, she’d set herself loose. She was now a loose woman. ” (Atwood 167) Moira goes against all norms, breaks free from the conformity and overall, participates in illegal activity – all in order to look for resistance – and show that she is not owned by anyone, officially, or not.
These two women, Offred and Moira, do not follow the conformity placed upon them; instead, they fight back, and from there gain willpower to stay happy and to push forward into situations that have the potential to make a difference in society, not only for themselves but also for the people around them. Atwood’s portrayal of both conformists and non-conformists serves as a commentary of women’s role in society. By contrasting the two types of characters, Atwood demonstrates the differences women are able to make in society if they oppose the conformist pressures of the male dominated world.
In the novel, as discussed earlier, both the aunts and the wives are conformists; Atwood does not even give them personal names – they are usually referred to as a whole, with no distinctive characteristics. These women are dismissed as little more than bystanders, as they do not make their own decisions or stand up for their beliefs; instead, they merely go along with what others tell them. Contrary to these women are Offred and Moira, the non-conformist characters. These women are not afraid to take charge and fight against what is being forced upon them as ‘right.
’ In their roles, Offred and Moira are making, or attempting to make, a difference in their society by standing up for their morals and opinions. This therefore makes them strong female characters. Ultimately, it is not clear whether or not Offred is successful in finding the resistance; but, unlike the women who conformed, Offred at least attempted to make changes in her life so that she could be happy. Atwood thus uses the contrast between the conformist and non-conformist characters to demonstrate the effects of following the rules and the effects of going against them.
The Handmaid’s Tale serves as a commentary about the role of women in society and the chances that they have to make a difference. Atwood’s overall theme is that women need to stand up for themselves in order to be happy and be in control of their lives.
Works Consulted: Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986. Print. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Margaret Atwood section.