This can be seen in one of her most renowned novels: “The handmaid’s Tale”, published in 1985 and which portrays the life in Gilead, a new society which emerged after a group of rebels assassinated the President. This is an oppressive society, which controls the life of all its citizens, and especially the life of women. As a result of a decline in birth rates, the government decided to designate some fertile women to men of the high society, in order to have children for them and their wives. The novel is a clear example of a dystopian world, in which people have no freedom; individuality is erased, and those who are against the ruling class are murdered. The author presents various themes throughout the novel, using different motifs and symbols.
In The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, there are many moments that establish Gilead, the fictional world the novel is set in, as a corrupt society. Gilead is incredibly segregationist, with minorities and women specifically being targeted. It has an incredible lack of reproductive rights for women, and sexual shaming and blame are very prevalent. Margaret Atwood herself stated that she based The Handmaid's Tale only on events that have happened in the past, so aspects of the novel will always exist and can happen again (Atwood Emma Watson interviews). Like Atwood predicted, themes in this novel are still relevant in today's society.
The novel shows the way manipulation in Gilead lead to the control of women as shown throughout the actions of both genders. Offed and the other handmaids lived in constant fear and what ifs everyday. The Commanders seemed to have it all and the handmaid’s were little to none. In the end of chapter one, Offred explains, “We learned to whisper almost without sound,” (Atwood 4). Atwoods that the handmaid’s do not really have any power in the Red Center and they never will, not even the will to speak around higher gender roles.
In the 1980s, United States was experiencing the rise of conservatism. Under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, conservative religious groups were gaining popularity. In response to the social and political landscape, Canadian author Margaret Atwood published a fictional novel The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986; a genre of dystopian novels. The storyline projects an imaginary futuristic world where society lives under oppression and illusion of a utopian society maintained through totalitarian control. Dystopian novels often focus on current social government trends and show an exaggeration of what happens if the trends are taken too far.
The Handmaids Tale portrays that of a totalitarian society, and reflects a dystopia, which goes on to explore the interaction between sexuality and politics. (Conboy 349-362) As the saying goes, 'history repeats itself.' If one of the goals of Margaret Atwood was to prove this particular point, she certainly succeeded in her novel The Handmaid's Tale. In her Note to the Reader, she writes, " The thing to remember is that there is nothing new about the society depicted in The Handmaiden's Tale except the time and place. All of the things I have written about ...have been done before, more than once..." (316).
List three instances where each symbol appears in The Handmaid's Tale -- copy the text or describe what was happening in that section (including page numbers). Then write an explanation of the significance of that appearance (why was it important?). Last, write a paragraph analyzing the broader meaning of the symbol in The Handmaid's Tale. The Color Red: Chapters: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8,11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19 Offred mentions, The bell that measures time is ringing. Time here is measured by bells, as once in nunneries.
They’ve removed anything you can tie a rope to” (7). Thus, by the regime removing their means of suicide, the Handmaids are imprisoned in lives to them no longer worth living, an extraordinarily disadvantageous consequence. A second non-lethal form of rebellion for Handmaids is to become Jezebels, or prostitutes. Since prostitution is legally sanctioned by the regime, it gives women unwilling to be Handmaids, a lawful form of rebellion. However, again the consequences of rebellion are severe as a Jezebel not only faces the horrific circumstances of a whore’s life, a Jezebel is also required to be sterilized thereby removing any hope she might want to retain, of a future as a mother.
Nowadays, most people live in democratic countries where they have fundamental freedom and rights. However, The Handmaid's Tale and Prisoner of Tehran describe the opposite side where both characters are imprisoned in their societies. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel which describes a society is ruled by a extreme religion. The setting changes from a democratic country to a dictatorship where people live in fear. The novel is told by the protagonist, Offred, who is a Handmaid, a baby-maker, and is only valued by her ability to reproduce.
Everyone has been reassigned names, no one is seen by their real name. Classism is seen as the women are grouped into classes Handmaid, Wife, Martha, and Econowife (Shmoop). The women especially are stripped of their identity and seen only for their bodies, and who they are and being educated is no longer important. The theme of freedom and confinement through the novel creates a sort of paradox. The Handmaids are forced into these lives of being almost trapped in their rooms aside from performing their household duties and going to few societal events (Shmoop).
Imagine a society where women either had to agree to be raped once a month or they could be free in the world. The only catch is that in order to be free, they would suffer out in the colonies, which are the areas of the country that had been affected by radiation. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale demonstrates this type of totalitarianism society. There are three different classes of women in this society: the Handmaids, the Aunts, and the Wives. The Handmaids were the women who chose to live in the Republic of Gilead.