In The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, the Republic of Gilead actively represses women by forcing them into very narrowly defined, ultra-conservative gender roles. This totalitarian government strips women of all rights and protections, and imposes severe punishments for defiance. Pollution and disease had caused severe infertility in this society, drastically reducing birth rates. In an effort to reverse a drastic population decline, this thoroughly misogynistic and power-hungry regime, takes full control over the human reproductive process. Furthermore, the leadership uses various dehumanizing methods to achieve complete subservience of women to men. 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. The regime further dehumanizes women by assigning them strict gender-based roles, thereby removing any prior sense of individuality. For example, all women in Gilead are classified into very narrow gender …show more content…
Atwood’s dystopian novel is a warning about the consequences of misogynistic, authoritarian governments. Her message seems to be universal since the subjugation of women by religious extremists, remains a concern in the present
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Does Margaret Atwood portrayal of the Judeo-Christian ideals in The Handmaid’s Tale amplify the assertion that females are evil and thereby igniting a prestigious framework for men? Throughout the unbalanced gender status developed in Gilead, was this way of life developed because of the interaction between Adam and Eve’s? Could Eve’s act of picking up the apple from the forbidden tree stand as the reason why such an inequity is present and why Gilead society is formed the way it is? If so, is Gilead society a form of punishment for all future females due to Eve’s act in tempting Adam to sin? Did Atwood account for utilizing Eve’s mistake in allowing Gilead to justify that in keeping handmaids isolated, it will lessen the possibility of more
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).
The characters of this novel live in a theocratic dictatorship called the Gillead republic. The goal of this republic is to re-educate women and make them accept their new lives as instruments of reproduction “Handmaids”. Aunts are the ones in charge of re-educating or I should say “brainwashing”
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.
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.
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
The suffocating society of Gilead is presented where individualism is completely taken away from them, and what it means to be human has been completely eroded away from what we know today. To be human today means, to be honest, affectionate, caring, understanding and to have passions. However, being too passionate for something only leads to chaos as seen through Victor 's overpowering desire for knowledge that led to chaotic results. Offred 's identity and individualism have been completely stripped away from her as he legal rights, name and clothes have been destroyed. She 's just another cog in a machine as she is labeled as a handmaid, only valued for her "viable ovaries".
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.
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.
Margaret Atwood has seamlessly woven a tapestry of feminist elements - mainly regarding gender oppression - within her works. With that, using two of Atwood’s texts, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Year of The Flood, as the foundation for our literary research, we will be focusing on the commodification of the female flesh in both similar dystopian contexts. Commodification refers to the action or process of treating an object, or a person, as a raw material or product that can be bought and sold, or even treated as an object of which sovereignty can be held over by one. In both works, women are victimized and treated as sexual beings whose bodies and physical expressions can be freely used by the men who have power over them against their will. The two texts illustrate how society brings about the oppression of women and this exacerbates the commodification of women.
The most common form of reality control present in both The Handmaid’s Tale and Nineteen Eighty-Four is the elimination of privacy. The extent of the government’s use of reality control over the handmaids alone completely affects their abilities to act on their own impulses and think for themselves because they are forbidden from forming relationships with other people in society. It also makes them extremely suspicious of not only each other, but everything around them. In Gilead, the women function as lower class citizens while “the males in Gilead serve mostly paramilitary functions: lower echelon guards called Angels and an elite corps called guardians who frequently double as spies or Eyes” as stated by Elisabeth Hansot in her journal article entitled “Selves, Survival and Resistance in The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hansot 57). The complex social system the government creates involves a sort of hierarchy where each individual has a specific duty in society.
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.