Themes in Literature

991 WordsJul 23, 20114 Pages
Often in literature there are common themes that occur throughout eras and genres to link two otherwise different pieces of writing. One particular example of this occurrance can be seen in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Although these works have been written in very different time periods and use separate styles, there are two themes which link both stories and convey a very similar message. Strict societal roles and the treatment of women in patriarchal societies are prevalent ideas in both Shakespeare’s play and Atwood’s novel. These themes are approached and dealt with differently in each work, but ultimately convey the same meaning. There are some aspects of humanity that are…show more content…
The Handmaid’s Tale and The Taming of the Shrew offer very different views on the matter: Atwood gives a more sympathetic and feminist outlook, whereas Shakespeare tends to lean towards misogyny. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the Gileadean government oppressesed the women of the country as the new theocracy gains more power. Women are deprived of the right to vote, to have jobs, to hold money or property, to have an education and even the right to read. Initially there is an angry outburst at this, and the women fight to get their freedom back, but as the totalitarian state grows stronger, they find that there is less and less that they are able to do about their predicament. Eventually, women are reduced to being considered a ‘national resource,’ valued for their wombs and ability to reproduce, and seen as potential mothers rather than individuals. Rebellious behaviour is punished by death or banishment to work in camps; cleaning up toxic waste, so the oppressed women are limited to the smallest acts of rebellion, such as whispering among themselves when they are supposed to be silent. The Taming of the Shrew was written during the Elizabethan Era in England, so most of the attitudes towards women in the play are reflective of the established beliefs
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