cultural constructs of femininity, identity, and the extent of government control. The story explores the affects social and political trends have on society. The Handmaid’s Tale evaluates gender roles and the subjugation of women. Atwood’s use of aphorisms, symbolism, and allusions urges readers to examine the juxtaposition of cruelty and vulnerability in femininity. Throughout the novel, aphorisms play a large role in depicting the role of women as subservient to their male counterparts. By altering distinct aphorisms from the Bible and then locking it away from women, the male leaders of Gilead use the Bible to impose their rules and views. These modified sayings are instrumental in the effort of the subjugation and indoctrination of Handmaid’s. Although Offred resists conforming to such brainwashing, her constant references to Aunt Lydia's precepts are indication of the success of such tactics. One saying in particular, “Modesty is invisibility” (Atwood 28), is so indoctrinated in Offred that she conforms to the doctrines and rules of Gilead without hesitation. Such instances are indication of the …show more content…
According to Alanna A. Callaway, Gilead’s entire power structure relies on the disunity of women. Although Gilead’s system oppresses women, it is the few women in power that make the caste system dangerous for Handmaids. The patriarchal power structure of Gilead needs women to regulate each other, suggesting that gynocentric misogyny, or women hating women, is far more dangerous than traditional misogyny (Callaway 2008). This being said, the genuine threat in Gilead is not from the men in power, but the
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The Commander and the Aunts claim that women are better protected in Gilead, where they are treated with respect and kept safe from violence. However, while Gilead claims to suppress sexual violence, it actually institutionalizes it. An example is Jezebel’s, the club that provides the Commanders with prostitutes to service the male elite. Another example is the Ceremony that compels Handmaids to have sex with their Commanders. Foster suggests, “...sex can be pleasure, sacrifice, submission, rebellion, resignation, supplication, domination, enlightenment, the whole works” (158).
Some of these methods include destroying identity through classification, objectification, and indoctrination. Most women of Gilead are sufficiently repressed that they seem to accept their assigned roles, at least outwardly resigned to their fate. Atwood uses gender roles in The Handmaid’s Tale to show the lengths to which misogynistic totalitarian governments will go, to protect their dictatorships. The Republic of Gilead is a hierarchical society which requires complete submission of women to men. By taking away women’s paid jobs, confiscating their property, draining their bank accounts, and giving them no recourse, the male leadership leaves women in a fully dependent and subservient position.
What would become of the world, if our current societal flaws, such as sexism, racism, and classism were ingrained and executed at a systematic level? This is exactly what The Handmaid’s Tale set out to explore. The novel, which claims to be speculative fiction, is set in the theocratic Republic of Gilead (formerly the USA), where birth rates are rapidly declining and women have been marginalized by the patriarchal regime, forbidden to read, write or love and valued only if they are able to procreate. They are separated into classes, including Wives, Marthas, Aunts, Unwomen, and Handmaids, distinguishable only by the color of their clothing. The Handmaids are renamed by combining ‘of’ and the name of the Commander that they have been assigned to, stripping them of any individuality.
“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body”. When Margaret Sanger spoke these words, she was expressing her belief on a woman’s right to have an abortion. This quote, however, speaks to the fact that women are oppressed on more than just abortions. In the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Atwood portrays the dehumanization of sexuality through both the characters and events within the novel, therefore proving that women will always be considered less than men will. Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1939.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, the effects of suspicion on a society, on handmaid’s, are clearly visible; it can also be seen that the government’s method of control leads to the creation of a dystopia. The Handmaid’s Tale proves that a society built on fear and shaped by suspicion achieves near total control of the population by the ruling class, the government of Gilead in this case. In chapter 42, Aunt Lydia describes how they will no longer announce the crimes that the prisoners have committed at the Salvagings. Once Offred learns this she states, “Now we are left to our own devices, speculation” (Atwood 275). Therefore, through Offered, the reader is able to see how the handmaid 's will now have suspicions of what the prisoners did to get hanged, since they are no longer being told.
For instance these Upper class men, commanders, use handmaids to reproduce because their “wives” can no longer reproduce. In Gilead, women are only faulty and so if they cannot become fertile or produce a viable child then they get shipped off even though the men could
Atwood connects the political events to show how Gilead gained control and keeps their control by establishing fear into the women. Gilead stays in control by limiting speech to religious references, keeping the women from talking about the oppression they are suffering. Additionally, women are blamed for the social issues that were present in a pre-Gilead society such as rape, abortion and adultery. Women get the blame for the issues and men do not suffer consequences since it is in their nature to cheat. Atwood uses allusions to the Old Testament and historical events to satirize the oppression of women in political, religious and social
In The Handmaid’s Tale, the novel critiques gender inequality and autocratic authority. The hierarchical class of men consists of Commanders, Angels, and Guardians. In particular, the Commanders are the highest-ranking social group in Gileadean society. The Commanders are represented as powerful men. They have leadership roles, autocratic governance, and are oppressors controlling the Gilead regime.
Furthermore, the author displays a dystopian society completely dominated by a totalitarian and theocratic state. The main subject of this novel is the role assigned to women, mainly represented by the handmaids. In Gilead, the made-up country where the novel takes place, women are completely subjected by the government, and especially by men, who clearly have a higher status than women. Moreover, women’s freedom is entirely restricted, as they cannot leave their house at their will, they are forbidden to hold properties or jobs, they cannot read or write, and they are treated as sexual slaves whose only purpose in life is to bear children for elite spouses. The other option is a miserable, short life at the Colonies (a type of concentration camp), and death.
It is narrated by the protagonist, Offred who is a handmaid forced into sexual servitude. Facing a plunging birth rate, the fundamentalist regime treats women as property of the state. Handmaids are the few of the remaining fertile women and their sole purpose is to help the government into re-populating their society, where a lot of people are left sterile. The Handmaid’s Tale deals with the theme of women in subjugation to misogyny in a patriarchal society, primarily. It shows the struggle that women have to go through in that society, as a Handmaid or as not being able to be one.
This year is the 30th anniversary of the publication of Margaret Atwood 's dystopian classic, The Handmaid 's Tale. The novel is told from a first person account of a young woman, Offred. In an age of declining births, she is forced to become a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, the imagined future in the United States. The Handmaids are to provide children by the substitution of infertile women of a higher social status. Through the creation of different characteristics of female characters – ones who are submissive yet rebellious, and like to take advantage of their power - Margaret Atwood portray themes of love, theocracy, rebellion, and gender roles.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood demonstrates a quizzical protagonist, Offred, in a dystopian, totalitarian society where fertile women are only a mere vessel for child birth. Every month during Offred’s menstrual cycle her Commander, Fred, and his wife Serena Joy perform detached intercourse while Serena holds Offred’s hands. The handmaids of the Republic of Gilead are not allowed to use their mind for knowledge nor take part in formal society. They are but the vacuous-minded property to their Commanders and their infertile wives. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred discloses the day to day moments and her commicalOffred had once lived in a world where she was her own person with a job and a home with a family of her own but now she lives under unfortunate circumstances that disable her from being a true, soulful human.
Atwood describes the bathroom an area of vulnerability for the handmaids to emphasize their weakness. Repetition of “blue” (81) creates a cold atmosphere that is not suitable for the handmaids, who are represented by red, the color of warmth. Atwood demonstrates the disapproval of handmaids as a function of the government. The description of the bathroom provides setting that seems complete, but lacks a central component, a “mirror” (81).
These texts demonstrate the societal issues involving oppression of women, women’s sexual role and their status. The Handmaid’s Tale depicts the rigid societal structure whereby women are forced to serve in various aspects and functions in the society. The boundaries of the context set are in Gilead, a totalitarian state dominated by Christian fundamentalists, indicating that Gilead enforces conformity among its citizens. In a simply put manner, one’s social position is fixed. The permanent social statuses are clearly evident from the colour-coding of the women wherein “some [are] in red, some in dull green of
In this written text, the emphasis will be on Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale and as well as the way Atwood portrays women and how it can be argued to show the oppression of women. The main purpose is to analyze the way women are treated throughout this book and depict why they are represented this way in the society in Gilead. Then, comparatively, observe the men’s domination over women and how they govern this society. In The Handmaid’s Tale, women are stripped of their rights, suffer many inequalities and are objectified, controlled by men and only valued for their reproductive qualities. The Gilead society is divided in multiple social group.