lllustration of six women wearing long, loose red dresses

The Handmaid's Tale

by Margaret Atwood

Start Free Trial

What arguments can be made in The Handmaid's Tale?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Handmaid's Tale argues that we can forfeit our rights and freedoms seemingly overnight if we are not careful. In the story, Offred, and other women like her, liberated adults with careers and their own money, are so focused on their lives that it never occurs to them that all of what they treasure could be taken away. Therefore, we can make the argument from the novel that we must be careful and alert about what is going politically in our world so that we don't wake up one day and find our freedoms gone.

The novel also makes the argument that life is soul destroying in a totalitarian state. Not only Offred, but high status women like Serena, the wife of a commander, lead frustrating and constricted lives. Even Fred, the commander, indicates his loneliness and dissatisfaction as he reaches out to Offred for companionship. A free society, Atwood shows, is less terrifying and destructive than one in which a small group holds all the power and imposes its will from above on the rest of the citizenry. One can't come away from Atwood's novel and want to live in the society she describes with the dead bodies of hanged "traitors" dangling from walls, no access to information, and complete lack of freedom of speech, dress, and movement.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial