Gender Roles In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaids Tale

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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.

To begin with, the Handmaids are unfortunate women whose existence depends on their fertility. They lose all of their personal possessions, families, memories, and finally identities. They are renamed according to their relation to men and they must wear the same uniform, as they are objects
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Thirdly, the classification of women into different classes prevents them from identifying their upmost enemy: masculine power. The relationship between the different groups of women creates a powerful atmosphere of suppression. In fact, Gilead promotes the act of woman against woman. Wives and Aunts controls and enforces the disciplines of the patriarchal society to other women, so one can clearly see that even women takes advantage of power. For example, Serena Joy, the Commander’s Wife who lives in vain hope for traditional womanhood, is the true traitor against women. However, she is unhappily trapped in this new society she advocated for, where her hands have to endlessly knit for wool scarves and also touch flowers that mock her sterility. She has no choice but to support Offred’s and the Commander’s Ceremony for the future of the household. Through illustrating women who do not show solidarity to their gender, Atwood wants the reader to realize how they are also a product of their society, caught in their gender
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