Discuss mental distress of Offred in The Handmaid's Tale. What does her character suggest about mental health?

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Offred has a number of reasons for mental distress in A Handmaid's Tale . First, she has been separated from her husband and daughter and is worried about their welfare, especially that of her daughter. Second, she is imprisoned in the house of a high-ranking official in Gilead, a commander,...

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Offred has a number of reasons for mental distress in A Handmaid's Tale. First, she has been separated from her husband and daughter and is worried about their welfare, especially that of her daughter. Second, she is imprisoned in the house of a high-ranking official in Gilead, a commander, and is raped by him with his wife's collusion every month in an attempt to provide the wife with a child.

Offred has been stripped of her name and identity (her name, "Of Fred," suggests she is owned by a male) and dehumanized into an object whose self-actualization is of no importance. She is simply used as a tool or instrument to try to fulfill other people's desires. She has no voice in what happens to her and is under constant threat. Further, though an intelligent, high-energy person, Offred is often left with nothing to do. Finally, she has been cut off from information and has almost no larger context to help her make sense of her life.

Offred, who often contrasts her prior life of freedom with her present captivity, shows how debilitating and destructive to mental health it is to be stripped of autonomy and human rights. However, she also shows positive mental health in fighting back to the extent she can against her situation, such as through her affair with Luke.

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