preview

The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood

Decent Essays
In a modern-day society, there are ideologies that select groups of people are to be subjugated. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood plays on this idea dramatically: the novel describes the oppression of women in a totalitarian theocracy. Stripped of rights, fertile women become sex objects for the politically elite. These women, called the Handmaids, are forced to cover themselves and exist for the sole purpose of providing children. The Handmaid’s Tale highlights the issue of sexism while also providing a cruel insight into the manipulation of power seen in the modern world. The Republic of Gilead, the nation in which the novel occurs, is the militaristic theocracy that stands in what was formerly the geographical area of the United…show more content…
These precautions are taken in order to prevent not only the women from leaving the premises, but also the ultimate escape: death. Like a high-security prison, the possibilities for escape and for suicide are removed. Additionally, women are controlled to the point of brainwashing. The more experienced women, the aunts, frequently encourage active reinforcement in regards to not being rebellious by any means. They are reminded that they are the weaker links on the chains of society and that they are by no means powerful. Symbolically, the subjugation of women continues with the color red. The fertile Handmaids are gowned in red linens, and they use objects of the same color. Red symbolizes the blood of the menstrual cycle and childbirth, which in itself is representative of the purpose of the women in Gilead. Offred is cognizant of this concept and ponders, “Everything except the wings around my face is red: the color of blood, which defines us” (Atwood 8). Similarly, a notable motif in the novel is religion and conservative ideology of the society. Gilead is a totalitarian theocracy, wherein the Christian Bible is the basis of the government. Despite the legality of abortions when performed in the pre-Gilead world, abortionists are hung on the Wall, a place where criminals are executed. Homosexuals are also hung for “gender treachery.” The Bible is again the basis of government, but it is not allowed to be viewed by the public. Banning public
Get Access