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Essay on Feminist Ideas in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

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Feminist Ideas in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

For this essay, we focused strictly on critics' reactions to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. For the most part, we found two separate opinions about The Handmaid's Tale, concerning feminism. One opinion is that it is a feminist novel, and the opposing opinion that it is not. Feminism: A doctrine advocating social, political, and economic rights for women equal to those of men as recorded in Webster's Dictionary. This topic is prevalent in the novel The Handmaid's Tale. Margaret Atwood, a Canadian writer, spends most of her time featuring women in her books, novels, and poetry that examine their relationships in society. In the book Atwood centers her novel on a girl whom
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Atwood used Offred to express her ideas on pornography. Atwood obviously does not like it. But, in another sense, she emphasizes the fact that Aunt Lydia lies to Offred and the others when saying that it is how life used to be. Atwood never disregards the fact that women have been misrepresented both by themselves and by men. She is careful to go through the whole novel placing no blame, and leaving the questions to the reader. How did this society get to this point? Could this really happen? Are we doing anything to prevent it? In the novel there is no real one strong force. Especially no male or female dominant role, which makes it hard to decide who is to blame. Feminism is clear throughout the book, and Atwood represents women very well. Many readers have questioned the novel's character as a feminist critique. The Handmaid's Tale delivers a conservative interpretation of women's ideal social actions, advocating what looks more like traditional femininity, rather than revolutionary feminism.

Atwood's main character, Offred, has fantasies of being free. But Offred's vision of freedom is very un-feministic. For instance, at the beginning on The Handmaid's Tale, Offred dreams of things she is sometimes allowed to do, such as help to bake bread. "Or I would help Rita make the bread, sinking my hands into that soft resistant warmth which is so much like flesh" (11).
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