Our reading experience is heightened when we care about about the fate of our protagonist.
You care for her because of what she deals with (difference):
- Lack of freedom
- Control of women and how they live, sexuality
- Control through fear
In the Handmaid’s tale, the reader may not like offred. But cares for her (which in turn heightens the reading experience) because we can empathise with her and her change in setting. Gilead strips women of: Freedom of movement, Control of their sexuality, and A life without fear.
Although we tend not to favour Offred as a person, we find ourselves caring for her, heightening our expereince as readers. Because of the control of women, yet most evidently, control of their sexuality, it is easy to feel invested in her life and what her outcomes will be . “I avoid looking down at my body, not so much because it’s shameful or modest, but because i don’t want to see it. I don’t want to look at something that determines me so completely.” The handmaid’s in gilead have virtually no say in their future unless they want to be thrown into the colonies where they live lives of labour yet also under the risk of death. therefore, Offred’s choice to become a handmaid seems the safest. It’s the only other option over suffering a terrible life. Offred is forced, not entirely against her will, but for ensured survival. Offred must conceive with their commander, by involving herself in sexual activity with the commander as his wife lies with her, enduring in this act of deterioration. We often find ourselves frustrated with Offred, and do not understand why she puts herself through the ritualised ‘ceremony’, and i question why she doesn’t attempt to escape, or try to conceive with another man secretly when she has the chance. Offred continues to follow the regime. We are harsh on judgement towards Offred because we live in a democratic society where the amount of control evident in Gilead is unidentifiable in our lives. We live in a free environment where we are entitled to have sex with who we choose. Rape and supression of women does occur in our culture but we have a justice system and heavy range of support that is not evident in dystopian settings. Also, in our society, feminism in strong and it is clear to see that every day women are taking a great step towards becoming equal. Hillary Clinton became the first female presidential candidate nominated by a major party in 2016, so we can see a strong connection between power and women. Therefore, we care about Offred but cannot sympathise with her because we don’t know what it feels like to be her and to be stuck in a regime of such control.
From a females perspective, i feel that my experience is heightened more than others, perhaps males.