Femininity In The Handmaid's Tale

1008 Words5 Pages
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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