From the very beginning of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood constructs the world of Gilead around a central metaphor: the palimpsest. By enforcing rigid controls, Gilead has wiped away almost all forms of female freedom—reproductive rights, independence, and the choice of when and how to die—with considerable success. However, like the faint outlines of older texts on a palimpsest, hints of all these constructs and desires linger on. Atwood uses the extended metaphor of a palimpsest to illustrate freedom’s dual nature: while it can be easily eroded by fear and exploitation, it cannot be truly eradicated from the human spirit or society. Atwood sets up the extended metaphor of palimpsest in the book’s first pages, laying the …show more content…
In an effort to produce a child, Serena sends Offred to Nick where they both attain more than robotic sexual intercourse, but less than love. Undertones of and yearning for attraction, passion, and freedom in sex cut across characters, even the supposedly pious, showing that not even the horrific controls Gilead imposes can completely stifle humanity’s need for them. As the novel continues, the narrator paints a picture, emerging in small recollections of how Gilead slowly choked off the old world and put itself in its place, showing the relative ease with which women’s freedoms were given up and taken away, and how simple it was to remake the United States’ society. Women, including Offred’s mother, helped the process by burning pornography and, eventually, becoming Aunts in exchange for a little power or being spared the Colonies. The old United States died with the President’s Day massacre, where the Gileadean revolution is said to have simply, “shot the President and machine-gunned the Congress” (174). Gilead uses fear of death, of torture, and of reprisals as its main weapon, as Offred faces either reckoning or salvation at the hands of the Eyes, “They can do what they want with me. I am abject. I feel for the first time, their true power” (286). Atwood attributes a sense of vulnerability and fragility to
In today’s news we see many disruptions and inconsistencies in society, and, according to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, humankind might be headed in that direction. The deterioration of society is a concept often explored biologically in novels, but less common, is the effect on everyday social constructs such as the position of women as a item that can be distributed and traded-in for a ‘better’ product. The Handmaid’s Tale elaborates the concept that, as societal discrimination towards women intensifies, gender equality deteriorates and certain aspects of societal freedoms are lost. Offred’s experience with serving Gilead demonstrates a victim’s perspective and shows how the occurring changes develope the Republic.
In Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale she explores the concept of a not-so-distant future where toxic chemicals and abuses to the body have left many men and women alike sterile. The main character, Offred, gives the reader a first person account about her submissive life as a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. A republic that was formed after a coup against the U.S. government. She and her fellow handmaids are fertile women that the commanders of Gilead ‘enslave’ to ensure their power and to repopulate their ‘society’. While the laws that govern the people of Gilead seem outlandish and oppressive, they are merely
In her 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood has created the fictional Republic of Gilead, in which women are heavily oppressed by the newly installed regime. The new regime values women solely on their fertility, thus objectifying them to no more than a means of reproduction. By confiscating control over the process of and the rights to reproduction, the Gilead regime denies women ‘’any sense of control or independence’’ (Byrne). In this essay, I will argue that, although the female body is the main subject of oppression in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, it is also the key to resistance for women in the so-called nation of Gilead, and that women hold the ultimate bargaining power, as they have the ‘’final say’’ on what happens to their bodies.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood explores how societies, such as Gilead, exist as a result of complacency as the novel serves as a cautionary tale to future societies. Through ‘The Historical Notes’, Atwood explores the continuation of patriarchy and how the female voice is constantly undermined by the male gaze. Dominick Grace’s analysis of ‘The Historical Notes’ ‘questions … the authenticity’ of Offred’s account as it relies purely on the reliability of memories, which are subjective.
Within the totalitarian society created by Margaret Atwood in the Handmaid’s Tale, there are many people and regimes centred around and reliant on the manipulation of power. The laws that are in place in the republic of Gilead are designed and implemented so as to control and restrict the rights and freedom of its inhabitants.
The Handmaid's Tale, a film based on Margaret Atwood’s book depicts a dystopia, where pollution and radiation have rendered innumerable women sterile, and the birthrates of North America have plummeted to dangerously low levels. To make matters worse, the nation’s plummeting birth rates are blamed on its women. The United States, now renamed the Republic of Gilead, retains power the use of piousness, purges, and violence. A Puritan theocracy, the Republic of Gilead, with its religious trappings and rigid class, gender, and racial castes is built around the singular desire to control reproduction. Despite this, the republic is inhabited by characters who would not seem out of place in today's society. They plant flowers in the yard, live in suburban houses, drink whiskey in the den and follow a far off a war on the television. The film leaves the conditions of the war and the society vague, but this is not a political tale, like Fahrenheit 451, but rather a feminist one. As such, the film, isolates, exaggerates and dramatizes the systems in which women are the 'handmaidens' of today's society in general and men in particular.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is set in a future time period where the United States is under the control of the Gileadean regime. A terrorist attack leads to the collapse of Congress, the suspension of the Constitution, and the establishment of a theocratic totalitarian government. Men and women are given roles within society; they are Commanders, Eyes, Handmaids, and Marthas. In this novel, Atwood explores a prominent social issue, feminism. The suppression and power of women are examined through the setting and characterization of the novel to help understand the meaning of the novel as a whole.
One of the many sad aspects of The Handmaid’s Tale is that the women who are subjected to abuse and discrimination soon comply with the roles that have been assigned to them, permitting abuse and exploitation against and amongst themselves. Atwood is not particularly hopeful about women as a means of changing the conditions in which they are living in this society. Even Offred’s eventual escape from the perverted system is more of a luck luck thing than determined will. Paying particular attention to the ending of the novel, this essay will argue that the author wants to call the reader’s attention to the problems that women suffer, but that she offers no solution or hope for change. I will be addressing three different literary devices in this essay; Repetition, Characterization, and Foreshadowing. I hope you enjoy.
In her book, “The Handmaid’s Tale”, Margaret Atwood describes a dystopian society in which all of the progress in the feminist movement that was made during the twentieth century is reversed and the nation is reverted back to its traditional patriarchal ways. The story is told from the point of view of Offred, a woman who was separated from her husband and child and forced into the life of a handmaid. In this book, Atwood explores the oppression of women through her use of literary tools such as figurative language, symbols, and literary allusions.
Gilead is a society not far from the present and it based around one central idea, control of reproduction by using women’s bodies as political instruments. Handmaids are women who the state took complete control of through their political subjugation. They are not allowed to vote, hold property, read or do anything that can make them independent from their husband and the state. These handmaids are reduced to their fertility and treated like nothing more than a set of ovaries and a womb. They lose their identity and become an object of the state. The narrator of The Handmaids Tale is a handmaid by the name of Offred. The novel takes place in first person point of view and this allows the readers to see how she is treated and all the events that take place for her. First person point of view allows the reader a closer view as to how a central theme develops by giving the reader a firsthand experience from the mind of the narrator.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, the author, Margaret Atwood, creates a dystopian society that is under theocratic rule. From this theocracy, each individual’s freedom is, for the most part, taken away. The Handmaid’s Tale creates a dystopia by placing restrictions on the individual’s freedom, using propaganda to control its citizens, and by having citizens of Gilead live in dehumanized ways. Furthermore, the creation of a hierarchal system in Gilead caused its citizens to lose the ability to feel empathy towards one another. In the search to create a perfect society, Gilead caused more harm and problems than expected which created a dystopia rather than a utopia.
Margaret Atwood’s harrowing novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, follows the story of a woman marginalized by the theocratic oligarchy she lives in; in the Republic of Gilead, this woman has been reduced to a reproductive object who has her body used to bear children to the upper class. From the perspective of the modern reader, the act of blatant mistreatment of women is obvious and disturbing; however, current life is not without its own shocking abuses. Just as the Gileadian handmaid was subject to varied kinds of abuse, many modern women too face varied kinds of abuses that include psychological, sexual, and financial abuse.
The future lays in past decisions, such as the decision to end segregation, the decision to organize population growth, or the decision to separate blood family. These choices have come from past generations’ failure and future generations’ desires. The Republic of Gilead in Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale must focus on the reproduction of offspring and nothing else. Men and women do not “make love” anymore. They only have sex for reproduction purposes. Every loved one is taken away from them—husbands, children, parents, etc. One right that can never be taken away from them is their opinions. Offred rebels against her government with the use of thought and alliance. She believes she will one day see her husband and daughter again, and while Offred dreams of her family, Aunt Lydia dreams of a world where everyone in the Republic of Gilead “will live in harmony together,” and once rebellion by the suppressed women is stopped and population levels are
Throughout The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood utilizes various elements of fiction to develop and question the concept of power and control in the patriarchal society of Gilead. Offred, the main Handmaid, is the instrument of which Atwood delivers her message about corruption and power. Offred’s vague diction, unreliable characterization, and erratic tone illustrate the distress of this transitional society (Abcarian 1403-1404). In the beginning of Chapter 23, the role of memory in the novel expands, and the readers test the narrator’s creditability. Offred concludes that all of her memories are “reconstructions”, and that she will continue this practice even if she escapes Gilead. She continues to relate fluid memories to forgiveness and forgiveness to an unnaturally complacent and obedient population (Atwood 134-135). Identifying a powerful relationship between memories, forgiveness, and power, Offred suggests that the main source of Gilead’s totalitarian power is the regime’s ability to manipulate its citizens’ will to forgive past transgressions.
A Critical Analysis of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In this dystopia novel, it reveals a remarkable new world called Gilead. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood, explores all these themes about women who are being subjugated to misogyny to a patriarchal society and had many means by which women tried to gain not only their individualism and their own independence. Her purpose of writing this novel is to warn of the price of an overly zealous religious philosophy, one that places women in such a submissive role in the family. I believe there are also statements about class in there, since the poor woman are being meant to serve the rich families need for a child. As the novel goes along the narrator Offred is going between the past and