Margaret Atwood 's The Handmaid 's Tale Essay

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An individual’s impression of control over and ownership of their own body is essential to their feeling of autonomy. Without some sense of bodily autonomy, it is difficult for individuals to establish their own emotional autonomy. Throughout history, this bodily autonomy has been impaired by sexual control and dominance. By painting dystopian societies that heavily restrict reproduction and sexuality, Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, her poem A Woman’s Issue, and George Orwell’s 1984 all convey that sexual repression undermines individual identity and autonomy. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood uses her description of the Ceremony to emphasize how Gileadean society controls sex in order to manipulate its citizens and force the women of Gilead into passivity and dissociation from their bodies. During the ritualistic Ceremony, the Handmaids are raped by their Commanders in hopes of becoming pregnant, the only semi-sexual relationship afforded to individuals within this social class. While during the Ceremony, intercourse is performed, Atwood heavily emphasizes the non-sexual nature of the Ceremony.The description of the Commander’s rhythmic movements shows a lack of involvement, and Offred’s description of the Commander “fucking” her lower body and not “making love” shows how dissociated she is from the action. Instead of an act of passion, Gilead has reduced sex to a highly ritualistic duty performed only for reproduction, preventing Handmaids from gaining agency
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