Presentation on theme: "Offred’s Language Comparison Imagery Symbolism"— Presentation transcript:
1 Offred’s Language Comparison Imagery Symbolism Why does Offred spend so much time thinking about language?
2 Comparison is largely used in The Handmaid’s Tale to contrast Offred’s life in Gilead, and her previous life.Offred’s comparisons create a large divide between Gilead time, and pre-Gilead time, and emphasises her freedom then, and the control they have over her now.Offred also uses these comparisons to relive her past and remember a better time, to keep herself sane in the midst of the Gilead regime. She says “I intend to last”Offred has double vision a lot during the novel, usually when she is doing something in Gilead that reminds her of her past, for example when she goes shopping with Ofglen down the same street she used to shop. She remembers that the shops used to be called things such as “All Flesh” and “Milk and Honey”, but now they only know what the shops are by signs with pictures on them. These memories are used to compare her life then and her life now and emphasises the change.Her memories of the past generally have positive connotations, while her memories of the present are more negative.Comparison
3 Offred uses a lot of imagery in The Handmaid’s Tale because it is a small resistance against the Gilead regime, as they have taken the use of language away from the people of Gilead. This gives her a small sense of control over her life.Something Offred describes a lot is flowers. The imagery of flowers gives us an idea of the importance of fertility in Gilead, and how Offred feels about fertility and the Gilead regime.For example when Offred describes some Tulips in Serena Joy’s garden she first describes them as “…redder than ever, opening, no longer wine cups but chalices” “redder” and “chalices” represent fertility and how the people of Gilead treasure it. She then goes on to describe the older tulips “When they are old and turn themselves inside out, then explode slowly, the petals thrown out like shards.” Which shows us that when Handmaid’s are no longer able to have babies they are no longer treasured. The negative connotations show us that Offred doesn’t like that it works that way.Offred also often describes eggs. In chapter 19 she says “I think that this is what God must look like: an egg [...] To look at the egg gives me intense pleasure.” Eggs represent female fertility and Offred describing an egg as “what God must look like” again shows us how much fertility is treasured in Gilead society.Imagery
4 Offred uses symbolism to emphasise the main focusses of Gilead society e.g fertility. The symbolism of the colour red is very important. For example the Handmaid’s wear red, which symbolises the red of blood in menstruation and fertility, as the Handmaid’s main job is to be fertile and reproduce.Symbolism creates links between ideas and themes and Offred’s daily life.The use of flowers as symbols is important in trying to mask the horrible things that happen in Gilead society. For example the Commanders bedroom is described as “a starry canopy of silver flowers” and Offred’s own room there's a "watercolour picture of blue irises".The use of symbolism is also important because it demonstrates the themes of the novel by using on going symbols. The reader is given an insight on the themes and ideas in The Handmaid’s Tale, giving us a clearer idea of how things work, and how Offred feels about them.Symbolism
5 Why does Offred spend so much time thinking about language? Offred treasures language because the use of it has been taken away by the Gilead regime. This is particularly hard for Offred as she used to work in a library.The use of language is a form of passive resistance for Offred. Even the use of free speech is taken away from her, with the Gilead approved greetings and sayings such as “Blessed be the fruit” and “May the lord open” so being able to use beautiful imagery and other language, even if just to herself, keeps her sane and gives her a sense of control over her life.Also because language is taken away from her, Offred treasures the few pieces of language that she has. For example “faith” written on a pillow, and the latin phrase “nolite te bastardes carborundorum” which is carved into her bedroom closet. Offred has no idea what the latin means (at least until the Commander tells her) but even so, she treasures it because it reminds her of the time before, when language and knowledge were freely accessible.We see how very much Offred craves the use of language when the Commander asks her to play Scrabble with him. She says “this was once the game of old men, old women…” but goes on to say “Now of course it’s something different. Now it’s forbidden, for us. Now it’s dangerous. Now it’s indecent.” She even says “it’s as if he’s offered me drugs”. Something as simple as Scrabble is a major temptation for Offred. She salivates over the use of the forbidden language “The letter C. Crisp, slightly acid on the tongue, delicious”Why does Offred spend so much time thinking about language?