Structuralism - Tina Su

This post is written from a structuralist's perspective. The following are break downs of the binary opposite found in the passage 'Visit to the doctor'.
Naked Body vs. Clothes
In the first paragraph, Offred explains that she is naked on an examining table, soon the doctor enters and he is fully clothed. The binary opposite here are the Offred's naked body and the doctor's clothes. Through this oppositions, a structuralist would say that the truth behind this scene is a woman of Gilead's complete lack of privacy. While men are concealed behind their clothes, handmaids are to be exposed and are at men's disposal.
Offred vs. Honey
In the fourth paragraph, the doctor makes conversation with Offred, though he is not suppose to. The doctor casually calls Offred 'honey', which Offred finds uncomfortable. '''Nothing wrong with you,' the doctor says, as if to himself. 'Any pain, honey?' He calls me honey.'' (Pg. 74) The binary opposite here is Offred's name versus the doctor calling her honey. The truth behind this passage is the doctor's need of giving Offred a name of his preference (honey) to create a sense of intimacy because of the favor he is about to offer her. This puts Offred in an awkward position because this is perhaps the first time a stranger had shown affection for her and she would find it difficult to refuse.
Lies vs. Truth
Offred describes her astonishment when the doctor used the world sterile. ''I almost gasp: he's said a forbidden word. Sterile. There is no such thing as sterile man anymore.'' (Pg. 75) The binary opposite here is the lie Gilead tells it's citizens versus the reality. The truth behind this passages is that men are in control of Republic of Gilead, because men cannot be sterile and men are not sterile, if anything, infertility is the women's fault, not the men's. It is the law, that there are women who are fruitful and women who are not, but all men are capable for reproduction.
Sympathy vs. Lust
When the doctor offers to impregnate Offred, Offred can feels his sympathy, yet she can also see that he enjoys offering this service for handmaids. This perhaps isn’t a binary opposite, but there is definitely an extreme contrast between the doctor’s action and his emotion. The doctor genuinely feels sorry for what handmaids have to go through, and he understands the risk he is taking by offering to have sex with Offred, yet his lust for sexual encounter cannot be concealed behind his genuine façade. The truth behind this opposition is the men of Gilead are perhaps not being satisfied with their sexual needs. The doctor’s proposal shows that men long for women who are fruitful, as they are Gilead’s most valuable and desirable women.
Male (Doctors) vs. Female (Handmaids)
As Offred refuses the doctor’s offer, Offred thinks of the possibility of the doctor ruining her position as a handmaid. ‘’He could fake the tests, report me for cancer, for infertility, have me shipped off the the Colonies, with the Unwomen. None of this has been said, but the knowledge of his power hangs nevertheless in the air,’’(Pg. 76) The binary opposites are men versus women, more specifically doctors versus handmaids. The truth behind this passage shows the absolute power the men have over women. Regardless if Offred agrees to have sex with the doctor or not, the doctor still holds the power to destroy her by making false reports. The women basically cannot win, they cannot defy authorities and they cannot defy men, because men are the authorities.
Restriction vs. Freedom
The last binary opposites are in the last paragraph of the passage. Offred talks about the sense of fear that she is feeling at the end of the doctor’s appointment. The realization that she has been given a way of out of her circumstance gives her paranoia and it frightens her. The binary opposite here are restriction versus freedom. The restriction is Offred’s duty to the Commandar, freedom is the choice of being impregnated by any other man. The truth is that there are salvation for every handmaid regardless of their circumstances, the choice is always there but it is deemed illegal and is concealed away from the handmaids.

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