Power Struggle In The Handmaid's Tale By Margaret Atwood

1373 Words6 Pages
Renowned playwright William Shakespeare, and contemporary novelist Margaret Atwood both explore power struggle from a feminist perspective. Shakespeare in ‘King Lear’ and Atwood in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ explore varying power struggles and their correlation to gender through their respective texts. Shakespeare and Atwood use the genders of their central characters to focus on power in historical and dystopian settings. Both authors explore religious frameworks, the types of power in a patriarchal society, and the implications of gender on power through use of stylistic devices and literary techniques.
Gender stereotypes play a major role in both texts, with the authors conforming to the stereotype that men are violent and women are
…show more content…
Atwood informs the reader that Gilead was created with many casualties, and that anyone who opposes the regime is hanged or sent to the Colonies. The soldiers are called Angels, this name is ironic as Angels are supposed to be pure and good, and meanwhile they are hanging “Catholics […] Jews […] and Priests on the Wall for practicing their faiths. Atwood’s readers can notice clear differences between how women and men consolidate power in ‘The Handmaids Tale.’ Shakespeare employs nature imagery to expose the violent extents that his male characters will go to in order to get revenge. Lear has a lot of inner conflict throughout the play, and in his final moments of status he declares to Regan “I will have such revenges on you both […] the terrors of the earth!” This declaration is in iambic pentameter, highlighting his need to hold onto his power despite being degraded and emasculated by both of his daughters. Although Lear never acts upon his violence, Shakespeare ensures that the cliché of good versus evil is included in his play. In the last act, Edgar and Edmund engage in a sword-fight in which Edmund dies, consolidating Edgar as the new leader. Shakespeare and Atwood’s gender conformity in their respective texts opposes feminist theory of both genders being independent from their roles.
Atwood and Shakespeare explore the power struggles which are prominent between
Get Access