Margret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a dystopian novel, that centres around the themes of corruption, oppression, and theocracy. Told in the first person, the novel follows the female ‘Offred’ in her daily life/activities and past experiences in the newly founded “Republic of Gilead”. From my personal research, the events in the novel were influenced by negative situations that involved the American society prior to the 1980’s. These negative aspects of Gilead’s religious society in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ were drawn from similar issues facing the American public prior to the 1980’ s. These issues were based on religious concepts that were thought to greatly improve the American population's standard of living. The main ideas that influenced the creation of certain events and
Conflict can be described as the struggle between two opposing forces, whether the forces being person vs person, person vs self or person vs society. Good examples of conflict can be found in almost any book. Margaret Atwood’s novel, the Handmaid’s Tale is a source of all three types of conflicts. The Handmaid’s Tale is about a society where females are given specific duties and are restricted from reading, writing, talking to others and looking at themselves in mirrors. The protagonist, Offred whom is also the narrator in the novel faces conflicts with herself, with other people, and the society that she lives in. Offred’s conflict with the commander’s wife Serena Joy only escalates throughout the book, as the two did not like each other
Facing a plunging birth rate, the fundamentalist regime treats women as property of the state. Handmaids are the few of the remaining fertile women and their sole purpose is to help the government into re-populating their society, where a lot of people are left sterile. The Handmaid’s Tale deals with the theme of women in subjugation to misogyny in a patriarchal society, primarily. It shows the struggle that women have to go through in that society, as a Handmaid or as not being able to be one. This is depicted through various sub-parts in the novel. Narrated through the character of Offred, the novel even reflects back on her life and the events that have led to this bizarre
Both texts ‘The Handmaids Tale’ and ‘The Bloody Chamber’ were written during the second wave of feminism which centralised the issue of ownership over women’s sexuality and reproductive rights and as a result, the oral contraceptive was created. As powerfully stated by Ariel Levy, ‘If we are really going to be sexually liberated, we need to make room for a range of options as wide as the variety of human desire.’ Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter both celebrate female sexuality as empowering to challenge the constraints of social pressure on attitudes of women. Both writers aim to expose the impact of patriarchy as it represses female sexual desire and aim to control it thus challenge contemporary perspectives of women by revealing the oppression
Fairy tales have been told for centuries and have been used to portray the conflict of sexual politics over time. Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast are both examples of fairy tales with this focus. Making use of this conflict in The Handmaid 's Tale, Margaret Atwood has used certain elements of fairy tale genre to have the opposite effect of the stereotypical ‘happy ever after’ as the novel plays in a dystopian world. More specifically, the author has borrowed elements of fairy tales to develop the theme of shifting power in The Handmaid’s Tale.
“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body”. When Margaret Sanger spoke these words, she was expressing her belief on a woman’s right to have an abortion. This quote, however, speaks to the fact that women are oppressed on more than just abortions. In the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Atwood portrays the dehumanization of sexuality through both the characters and events within the novel, therefore proving that women will always be considered less than men will.
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. The protagonist of The Handmaid’s Tale is referred to as Offred (of Fred). Through the manipulation of literary devices such as juxtaposition, allusion, and descriptive diction, Margaret Atwood voices her concerns about our future, and reveals just how quickly and completely our present could transform.
Works of literature often portray ideas relating to Marxist theory, this is why in a dystopian society, class distinctions dominate the social climate, using Marxist ideologies as a tool to define the lives of the narrator and those around her. In Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, ideologies from Marxist theory dominate the society in which Offred, the narrator, lives in, evidenced by the strict class systems and limited interaction between them. In writing the novel, Atwood makes a point to create a world that could exist using technology and ideas already accessible in today’s society, meaning the events that take place in The Handmaid’s Tale could happen in present day. Offred lives in a reality where class distinctions dominate society, and women, especially fertile women. These women are displaced downwards, although there are those women who attempt to resist the grip of society. Offred initially feels a sense of loss due to her position as a fertile woman since the independence and individuality she once enjoyed has since been stripped from her by the Republic of Gilead. It is only through rebellion that Offred is able to slowly regain her sense of self and reject the role that Gilead forces her into. By rebellion, however, it is often more dangerous for the perpetrators than to the government’s grip on the people. Offred’s societal role as a handmaid in Gilead forces her to first obey, then causes her to question, which finally allows her to realize her
In Margaret Atwood’s novel, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, Moira is depicted as the symbol for resistance to authority and represents hope to the Handmaids. Atwood presents her as a polar opposite to Offred. She is independent, strong-willed, and outspoken. Conversely, the pair can be argued to be doubles in the fact that they both ‘resist’ to the oppressive Republic in Gilead.
In the Handmaid 's Tale power is used to control the women and sort them into certain gender roles. Each women in the society of Gilead is assigned a certain job that is stereotypical of a woman 's job such as cooking, sex, and reproduction. These women are the lowest class in Gilead and have no control. The men have superior power of the women but the women such as Ofgeln and Offred gain control in power in their lives.
Often, we see a society’s cultural values reflected in its citizens. For example, the United States values equality, a standard that is shared in all facets including gender. The opposite is true of Gilead, a fictional society in Emily Bronte’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The novel’s main character, Offred, is subjected to degrading treatment simply because she is a woman. It becomes apparent that this repeated degradation has affected the protagonist’s mind. Through first-person point of view and the motif of eyes, Brontë establishes the effects of Gilead’s patriarchal society on Offred’s psychological and moral traits, revealing that the only way to survive in an oppressive society is to outwardly conform.
Throughout history, women have often been subjected to prejudice and an inferior status to men. Due to sexist ideologies of men believing that women are not capable of controlling their own lives, women have often been reduced to the status of property. This concept is prominent in many pieces of literature to demonstrate the struggles women have to go through in a predominantly, male structured world. In the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, the author illustrates a woman’s battle in an extreme society ruled by men to express the misogyny occurring in the time period when it was written, 1894. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia summarizes Atwood’s story as one that “depicts one woman’s chilling struggle to survive in a society ruled by misogynistic fascism, by which women are reduced to the condition of property.” Although written 100 years earlier, this is also seen in the novel, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy, because both authors show the oppression of women through the experiences the characters go through and the means of survival they use. The two novels, The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas
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. This society is governed by men, the Commanders with the assistance of Aunts, then comes the Wives, Handmaid’s and Moira. Gilead was formed as a response to the dramatic decreasing birth rates, thus women called Handmaid’s are used to rejuvenate the population. How and why are different social groups represented in a particular way in The Handmaid’s Tale?
Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), presents several controversial yet realistic themes that can be linked to many social justice issues in today’s society. One central point that is highlighted throughout the novel is the objectification of women. In Atwoods novel women transition from normal citizens in society, to baby birthing machines. Women no longer acquire the respect, authority, freedom, and power that men have in the world of Gilead. This objectification that the handmaids are exposed to can be seen all throughout our environment, and there is no limit to where it can occur. At work, schools, on television news, in magazines...women are enclosed in this ideal image and set of standards that is far off from the average
In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood demonstrates a quizzical protagonist, Offred, in a dystopian, totalitarian society where fertile women are only a mere vessel for child birth. Every month during Offred’s menstrual cycle her Commander, Fred, and his wife Serena Joy perform detached intercourse while Serena holds Offred’s hands. The handmaids of the Republic of Gilead are not allowed to use their mind for knowledge nor take part in formal society. They are but the vacuous-minded property to their Commanders and their infertile wives. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred discloses the day to day moments and her commicalOffred had once lived in a world where she was her own person with a job and a home with a family of her own but now she lives under unfortunate circumstances that disable her from being a true, soulful human. Through the use of biblical allusions and specific word