“Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood is mainly made of a monologue of the main character. Most parts of the book are only about the main character, so the author’s characterization of her is crucial. As the main character is in the position of a handmaid, who is not allowed to be expressive, her thoughts and feelings compose the characterization. Her thoughts and feelings are revealed from a first-person point of view, and show how she thinks about the system of a dystopian society she lives in.
I wait. I compose myself. My self is a thing I must now compose, as one composes a speech. What I must present is a made thing, not something born.
Don’t let the bastards grind you down. I repeat this to myself but it conveys nothing. You might as well say, Don’t let there be air; or Don’t be. I suppose you could say that.
Throughout the book, she shows a recessive attitude, yet doesn’t get completely brainwashed. She leaves a comment on the system as if she was accepting it as some kind of logic she should follow in order to survive. This gives the readers a characterization of the main character in depth. The author characterizes the main character as someone clever enough to learn how to survive in the worst situation possible. Her thoughts focus on survival and are careful. The fact that she actually doesn’t follow society with her heart is shown in what words she uses. When she is describing herself, she mentions “a made thing,” implying she is pretending to be a sacred believer. Also, when she describes society and oppressing leaders, she calls them “bastards,” expressing her hidden rage directly. With this characterization, the main character has become a strong-willed survivor.