The society which Atwood has created in her novel is one which is divided into two separate “spheres of existence”, namely the public and domestic sphere. These spheres originated from the ideology that first appeared in the 19th century, with its notion that separate spheres existed for men and women, where women were associated with family and children (Purvis). In Gilead, “men exert all social control, monopolize power, and occupy the public sphere, [and] women [were] essentially powerless and relegated to the domestic sphere” (Mohr 245), however, it could be argued that women within the novel’s domestic sphere were not “essentially powerless”. Atwood presents this argument by demonstrating the power that women have within a domestic …show more content…
This is especially ironic in the case of Serena Joy. In pre-Gilead society, Serena Joy held a position of power, and used this power in order to advocate “traditional women values” (Callaway 35) and to oppress other women. However, once the world she advocated for became a reality in the form of Gilead, she realizes that her social status does not exempt her from the oppression that she helped create, and her “anguish lies in her inability to adapt to the wifely role she has so ardently advocated” (Freibert 283). This results in the creation of a bitter character, and hence suggests how even women with power are unable to be happy within a restrictive male-dominated society (Callaway 36). Through this, Atwood uses her novel to “critique the feminine roles that support the repression of other women” (Callaway) by buying into conservatism, as well as using it to express her views on the controversy behind Second-Wave Feminism during the time the novel was …show more content…
By describing the Wife’s garden as her “domain”, Atwood implies that Serena Joy is in complete power, as “domain” has military connotations and is defined as “an area of territory owned or controlled by a particular ruler or government”. Therefore, by using the word “domain” in this context, Atwood could be comparing Serena Joy’s position to a dictator in a dictatorship, highlighting the absolute control she has within her domain and emphasizing the existence of a social hierarchy in Gilead. Serena’s power within the household is further emphasized when the reader learns that “he [the Commander] wouldn’t be able to intervene, to save me [Offred]; the transgressions of women in the household, whether Martha or Handmaid, are supposed to be under the jurisdiction of the Wives alone” (Atwood 170), when Offred begins to realize that her clandestine relationship with the Commander might be discovered by Serena Joy. This illustrates how within the household, Serena Joy holds more power than the Commander, a male character, and hence shows that even within a patriarchy, there are instances where a woman holds more power. However, the “garden” is a domestic environment, alluding to the domestic sphere in which Serena Joy belongs, and suggests that her power is restricted to this sphere and she is unable to influence that
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In today’s news we see many disruptions and inconsistencies in society, and, according to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, humankind might be headed in that direction. The deterioration of society is a concept often explored biologically in novels, but less common, is the effect on everyday social constructs such as the position of women as a item that can be distributed and traded-in for a ‘better’ product. The Handmaid’s Tale elaborates the concept that, as societal discrimination towards women intensifies, gender equality deteriorates and certain aspects of societal freedoms are lost. Offred’s experience with serving Gilead demonstrates a victim’s perspective and shows how the occurring changes develope the Republic.
This gender role construct is what often makes women feel powerless/paralyzed to change their role in the domestic sphere due to overriding authority of the “masculine world.” In a literary point of view, the role of the mediocre woman in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility can describe how women, such as Lady Middleton and Lucy Steel conform to these submissive gender roles in the 19th century patriarchal institution of marriage.
In her 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood has created the fictional Republic of Gilead, in which women are heavily oppressed by the newly installed regime. The new regime values women solely on their fertility, thus objectifying them to no more than a means of reproduction. By confiscating control over the process of and the rights to reproduction, the Gilead regime denies women ‘’any sense of control or independence’’ (Byrne). In this essay, I will argue that, although the female body is the main subject of oppression in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, it is also the key to resistance for women in the so-called nation of Gilead, and that women hold the ultimate bargaining power, as they have the ‘’final say’’ on what happens to their bodies.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood explores how societies, such as Gilead, exist as a result of complacency as the novel serves as a cautionary tale to future societies. Through ‘The Historical Notes’, Atwood explores the continuation of patriarchy and how the female voice is constantly undermined by the male gaze. Dominick Grace’s analysis of ‘The Historical Notes’ ‘questions … the authenticity’ of Offred’s account as it relies purely on the reliability of memories, which are subjective.
In the republic of Gilead, there are many rules and restrictions within all levels of the community, wives, econowives, common men and handmaid’s included, which limit the goings-on of the people. These rules were all created by the men in charge, going by the name of ‘The sons of Jacob’ and are forcefully implemented by the angels, the male soldiers and ‘protectors’. The roles of those in charge all belong to a
The Handmaid's Tale, a film based on Margaret Atwood’s book depicts a dystopia, where pollution and radiation have rendered innumerable women sterile, and the birthrates of North America have plummeted to dangerously low levels. To make matters worse, the nation’s plummeting birth rates are blamed on its women. The United States, now renamed the Republic of Gilead, retains power the use of piousness, purges, and violence. A Puritan theocracy, the Republic of Gilead, with its religious trappings and rigid class, gender, and racial castes is built around the singular desire to control reproduction. Despite this, the republic is inhabited by characters who would not seem out of place in today's society. They plant flowers in the yard, live in suburban houses, drink whiskey in the den and follow a far off a war on the television. The film leaves the conditions of the war and the society vague, but this is not a political tale, like Fahrenheit 451, but rather a feminist one. As such, the film, isolates, exaggerates and dramatizes the systems in which women are the 'handmaidens' of today's society in general and men in particular.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is set in a future time period where the United States is under the control of the Gileadean regime. A terrorist attack leads to the collapse of Congress, the suspension of the Constitution, and the establishment of a theocratic totalitarian government. Men and women are given roles within society; they are Commanders, Eyes, Handmaids, and Marthas. In this novel, Atwood explores a prominent social issue, feminism. The suppression and power of women are examined through the setting and characterization of the novel to help understand the meaning of the novel as a whole.
My response has been inspired by a study of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Attwood (Section XIV-Salvaging, Chapter 45 and Section XV- Night, Chapter 46). I shall demonstrate my understanding of the text of these chapters in the form of a memoir by rewriting the chapters from another character’s perspective i.e. Serena Joy’s perspective. Though memoirs are written for non-fiction literature, I noticed the features of memoir in this novel. Serena Joy is one of the important character, of the novel, at the top social level permitted to women. The intended purpose of this Written Task 1 is to know and understand Serena Joy’s perspective (Wife of a Commander), who was a singer and advocate for “traditional values” in the old world before Gilead and now the state took away her power and public recognition. This text starts from the point when Serena Joy comes to know
Serena Joy is the most powerful female presence in the hierarchy of Gileadean women; she is the central character in the dystopian novel, signifying the foundation for the Gileadean regime. Atwood uses Serena Joy as a symbol for the present dystopian society, justifying why the society of Gilead arose and how its oppression had infiltrated the lives of unsuspecting people.
Margaret Atwood is author that is most famously known for her use of feminism in her literary works. The Handmaid’s Tale is among one of the most well known books for its critique of feminism. Feminism is described as the advocating for women's rights for equality to men on all levels, including social, political, and economical. Atwood’s novel centers around a dystopian culture in which women’s rights are disregarded by the state, men, and fellow women. After the birth rate started to decline, the state decided to take control by creating a new society in which reproduction was the main focus. The men did not lose their right when the new society was formed, creating a patriarchal society. A disunity was created within the various rankings of women in
With these changes to society, members often felt bounded by Gilead and the ability to control one’s thoughts appears impossible, as Aunt Lydia tells Offred, “The Republic of Gilead, said Aunt Lydia, knows no bounds. Gilead is within you” (Atwood 23). It appears that Aunt Lydia believes that Gilead is an internal part of each individual and therefore, it is always helping to ‘shape’ one’s thoughts and actions. Gilead’s justification of why women don’t need an education is that since a woman’s purpose in society is to bear children and raise them, they no longer require an education to perform such duties. The male population of Gilead did not lose the same rights that the women lost, however, males still have restricted freedom and restricted access to materials (books, magazines, etc). The restrictions placed on women’s and men’s lives in Gilead appear to match a characteristic of a dystopia. Since men and women don’t receive the same education in Gilead due to the restrictions on freedom, it would be improper to consider Gilead a utopia.
It is hard to believe that a character whose name is composed of the words “serene” and “joy” could emit the opposite of what her name suggests, but Serena Joy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale disproves this stereotype. While some may argue that Serena is generous to Offred, she only does this as a means of exploitation rather than pure generosity. Her character exhibits cynical character traits, demonstrating selfishness through her lack of empathy for others, maliciousness through her constant explorations of the Handmaids, and hypocriticalness through breaking her own laws. She is the poster child for the dystopian society’s tyrannical government. The government desires someone who can effectively rule over the Handmaids with fear
Furthermore, Gilead society is very similar to the Taliban principles. Some of the principles Taliban put in place include women being not allowed to work, ban on female activity outside the house, women wear a long veil from head to toe, and ban on cosmetics, high heels, perfume, laughing and colourful clothing. These rules are very similar to how women have to behave in the novel, “By silencing women and taking all sorts of power from women, Gilead society remains in control.” (Yazdani 86). These bans are justified in Gilead, because they were put in place to protect women from dangerous men. Atwood parallels the Gilead society to Taliban principles to show us that we should not take things literally from religious books because those books were written in a very different time from what we live in now. It serves as a warning to our world (the USA and Canada) and how
In The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood explores the role that women play in society and the consequences of a countryís value system. She reveals that values held in the United States are a threat to the livelihood and status of women. As one critic writes, “the author has concluded that present social trends are dangerous to individual welfare” (Prescott 151).
A Critical Analysis of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In this dystopia novel, it reveals a remarkable new world called Gilead. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood, explores all these themes about women who are being subjugated to misogyny to a patriarchal society and had many means by which women tried to gain not only their individualism and their own independence. Her purpose of writing this novel is to warn of the price of an overly zealous religious philosophy, one that places women in such a submissive role in the family. I believe there are also statements about class in there, since the poor woman are being meant to serve the rich families need for a child. As the novel goes along the narrator Offred is going between the past and