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Group Analysis Of The Imagery, Symbolism, Figurative Language, Ironic Devices And More For "The Handmaid's Tale" By Margaret Atwood.

2709 words - 11 pages

Imagery: Throughout the novel, "The Handmaid's Tale", Margaret Atwood presents an astonishing amount of vivid imagery and description that makes up the style and flow of the novel. Perhaps the first images present in the novel are that of light and dark. Listed in the table of contents, the reader can see that nearly every other section is entitled Night. Night is usually associated with darkness and fear, although to Offred this connotation is only half true. It seems that only in the dark can the characters of the novel move around and be "free" without the fear of being caught. It's in the darkness of her room that Offred remembers her life prior to the Gilead regime, often recalling her old friends and family members such as Moira, Luke, Offred's daughter and even her mother. Offred tends to bring up Moira more than any other character during these nostalgic glimpses because she was the most rebellious. An example of her conflict with the Gilead regime is subtly stated prior to the regime itself when Offred mentions that Moira is a lesbian: "she'd decided to prefer woman" (222). The fact that Moira is a lesbian is a huge problem against the Gilead government considering that their purpose is to enforce male and female relations. This type of information would have to be expressed by the cover of night because of its obvious conflict. Additionally, forbidden meetings between Offred and the Commander are even organized under the cover of night. A relationship between Offred and Nick are even sparked at night. On one occasion their longing for each other is apparent in just a glance: "Down there on the lawn...Nick. We look at each other. I have no rose to toss, he has no lute. But it's the same kind of hunger" (248). At night these types of interactions are more permissible, because the likelihood of being caught is minimal. The darkness brings a sense of security and comfort in this society.In contrast to the dark is the light of Gilead, which is represented by daytime and the government. During the day the handmaid's must cover up their bodies. At the begging Offred says that she looks like, "A Sister, dipped in blood,"(11) comparing herself to a nun. This comparison reveals that the society is forced into extreme modesty, but it can only be enforced in the daytime. Later in the novel, Offred is with Nick in his apartment. While having illegal sex she mentions the, "searchlight, [glowing]...from the grounds below, filtered through his white curtains" (346). In this example the searchlight represent the government of Gilead, since they are government searchlights, which further implies that no one is safe in the light. The light brings a sense of unsettling tension because one can be caught in the light.Offred thus far in the novel seems more comfortable in the dark, but tempted by the light. By the end of the novel she is caught, but it's ambiguous as to who takes her. The final line reads, "And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else...

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