Oppression In The Handmaids Tale

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In The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood explores how the structure of a dystopian society, the Republic of Gilead, that severely oppresses women relies on female characters’ internalized misogyny. Atwood investigates how both men and women contribute to the perpetuation of a vicious cycle. While critics and readers alike recognize the cruel treatment of women at the hands of men in Atwood’s dystopian society, the novel illustrates how women’s complicity allows misogyny to run even deeper in society. Atwood’s novel showcases the cruel treatment of women in society. By exploring the range of ways women contribute to the perpetuation of Gilead, Atwood’s fictional dystopia, Atwood asserts that women contribute to their own oppression. The role…show more content…
Pheterson furthers that such oppression manifests in self-hated, self-concealment, fear of violence, and feelings of inferiority, resignation, isolation, powerlessness, and gratefulness for being allowed to survive" (148). Addressing the problem of internal oppression, Pheterson outlines the devastating psychological and even physical effects of living with internalized oppression. More importantly, Pheterson explains how internalized oppression spreads to impact an entire society, noting “internalized oppression is the mechanism within an oppressive system for perpetuating domination not only by external control but also by building subservience into the minds of the oppressed groups" (148). Internalized oppression transforms women into tools for perpetuating their own suffering, as the negative ideologies become an ingrained part of their worldview. This transformation results in the creation of three major roles: the bystander, the accomplice, and the facilitator. After the process of degrading women and instilling the feeling of inferiority, women share these sentiments and eventually enforce them
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