Is Offred in Handmaid's Tale a heroine? Is she a heroine? Why or Why not?

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slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Offred can be argued to be the heroine of the piece. Although she does not physically escape her oppressive situation during the course of the novel, she mentally resists The Republic of Gilead's rules, and even breaks some of them (for example her affair with Nick). Although she is forced to work as a Handmaid and live in sexual oppression, she still fights against the system in the little ways that she can. Even when she acquires the match towards the end of the book, she does not want to use it because the seed of rebelliousness is planted in her mind -- she could start a fire with it and burn down the house. These are heroic thoughts in a society where even thinking them could lead to severe punishment or death. Like every hero or heroine, Offred also has her failings -- when Ofglen informs her of the resistance movement, Offred is afraid to act. However, the Historical Notes say that Offred's account was found along the Underground Femaleroad, which indicates that Offred probably eventually managed to leave Gilead.

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The Handmaid's Tale

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