The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood Essay

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An American journalist, Theodore White, once said, “power in America is control of the means of communication.” This holds true not only for America, but in many environments, including The Gileadean government in Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. There are two linguistic elements employed throughout the novel which bolster the totalitarian regime of the Gileadean government. The religious terminology and speech and the sexist language and symbols highlight the repression of free speech and contribute to the oppressive behavior of the Gileadean administration by utilizing speech as a form of power that enables the government to control its citizens. By skimming over and failing to notice the occurrence of oppressive language, readers prove that people will readily accept sexist and domineering speech; analyzing these elements are important to regain control of the power of one’s own words, as well as the words of others. The society of Gilead employs extensive religious language and terminology throughout the novel to reinforce the Gileadean government’s theocratic dictatorship. Because there is no division of church and state in Gilead, a single religion dictates all aspects of life. The biblical language and terminology enable the Gileadean government to brandish a hierarchy of power which is demonstrated by the biblical titles placed upon the people in positions of power. For example, the angels which are introduced on page four are “objects of fear” to
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