The Influence Of Language In The Handmaid's Tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood takes place in the totalitarian theocratic regime of Gilead. This society used biblical language and omission of information to manipulate the general public into submission. Offred has a powerful understanding of how language can influence the population as she experiences it firsthand and uses the same power as a recorder. The recorder has a power that contrasts with her role in the Commander’s household. As the recorder of her own story she controls its presentation, the reader is subject to her unconscious bias. The experiences she has had define the way the reader will think about Gilead. She conveys her intense emotions throughout the length of the story from her feelings about palimpsest to her…show more content…
In a state without freedom of speech, the choice of words and tone can define everything. The female identity is lost with the neologism that indicates the Handmaid's’ new name. As our main character so eloquently says, "My name isn't Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it's forbidden. I tell myself it doesn't matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter" (page 84). Offred describes a dissociation between the role she plays in Gilead to the independent working woman she was before. By forbidding the person she was before the government plan Gilead began supposedly to end violence and the male gaze towards women, the real reason is because of infertility caused by environmental concerns. The fanatical believers find a way to justify oppression. Aunt Lydia said, “[i]n the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from.” (pg 24). Ironically. Gilead believes it is has given women freedom from harassment from men but the Handmaids are being coerced into procreation with men. It is also ironic as evidenced by Jezebels, another situation where women are left with no other option but to satisfy

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