Essay Aspects of control in The Handmaid's Tale and The Chrysalids
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Aspects of control in The Handmaid's Tale and The Chrysalids
Margaret Atwood and John Wyndham both write of distopian societies within the science-fiction genre to explore the varying ways in which society can abuse authority in order to gain control. This violent and dehumanising repression is used to create vulnerability and fear among the society as a method of control. The writers use the narrators Offred and David to explore the response to oppression and both its physical and psychological effects.
Atwood sets "The Handmaids Tale" in the future with the significant setting of Cambridge, Massachusetts. This Puritan stronghold in the US colonial period had created a theocracy, much like…show more content… Furthermore, Gilead is a reminder of the Victorian era with its obsession with the protection of women as a method of control. The strict religious code of Waknuk, and also the abuse of Old Testament values in Gilead, reveals the extended irony throughout both novels, especially "The Handmaids Tale".
Religion is one of the most important aspects of control used in both Gilead and Waknuk. The protagonist Offred in "The Handmaids Tale" reveals not only the use, but also the abuse of the Bible in Gilead. Male figures of authority alter Biblical scriptures appropriately for personal benefits and also to increase their level of control: "Blessed are the silent. I knew they made that up and they left things out too, but there was no way of checking". Ironically, women are forbidden access to the Bible, portraying women as victims as they can no longer challenge their exploitation.
Wyndham demonstrates a similar abuse of religion in "The Chrysalids". The Genesis concept of Man being created in the image of God is abused and, similar to Gilead, the society of Waknuk uses the Bible to back up this view. However, the irony is that the detailed image of God is written by a human, not God, therefore the people of Waknuk are deluded by the accepted image of God. "The Bible doesn't give any definition of Manâ€¦the definition comes from Nicholson's