Essay-style Questions: The Handmaid's Tale

1. Discuss the presentation of Offred in The Handmaid's Tale.

Answer

Introduction.

Keep this brief: it is a way to move on to your main points, and so should
not take up too much time.

Try to introduce a starting point from where you can begin your discussion.

Offred is the narrator of The Handmaid's Tale, and it
is through her eyes that the reader sees what happens to her.

Her story is told in a stream of conscious style, with memories and thoughts
cutting into the relating of events.

Her voice is educated and sometimes funny, but she is a fallible narrator,
as her story is so isolated.

Try to link between points,
as this will add weight to your views and your arguments.
The historical notes at the end accentuate this fallibility
as the authenticity of her story is questioned.

She also tells her story in the present tense, which is impossible because
she could not have recorded it at the time that she is describing.

Her memories seem almost hyper real in their descriptiveness and observations.

Her mental state is described through the fractured form of the narrative.

Her actions and inactions in the days leading up to the revolution make
the reader further question her personality and character, as she seems
to have been unwilling to fight for herself.

Conclusion.

Try and go out on a high. Don't just repeat what you have written
already: the examiner knows what you have said. Save a clinching point
for the end.

Offred holds Moira up to be a symbol of female empowerment
and hope; this is broken when they meet again at Jezebel's. Her potential
saviour is not Moira, but Nick. This suggests that men hold her future in
their hands, despite her desire for this not to be the case.