The Handmaids Tale is a poetic tale of a woman's survival as a Handmaid in the male dominated Republic of Gilead. Offred portrayed the struggle living as a Handmaid, essentially becoming a walking womb and a slave to mankind. Women throughout Gilead are oppressed because they are seen as "potentially threatening and subversive and therefore require strict control" (Callaway 48). The fear of women rebelling and taking control of society is stopped through acts such as the caste system, the ceremony and the creation of the Handmaids. The Republic of Gilead is surrounded with people being oppressed. In order for the Republic to continue running the way it is, a sense of control needs to be felt by the government. Without control Gilead will
A genuine identity and individuality is not possible in an oppressive environment especially when one’s daily life, actions, and thoughts are dictated by domineering societal expectations. Oppressive environments such as regimes controlled by a dictatorship and that run off a totalitarian government system strip an individual of their civil rights as a human being in order to gain ultimate control over its citizens. A government such as the Republic of Gilead in Margaret Atwood’s work, The Handmaid’s Tale, controls their citizen’s lives to the extent to where they must learn to suppress their emotions and feelings. In the Republic of
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.
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.
In “The Handmaids Tale”, author Margaret Atwood vividly illustrates the repulsive society of Gilead, that is strictly regulated by a Theocracy. In a Theocracy both religion and the government is one entity that rules under the teachings of the Bible and God. In Gilead, every inhabitant has an occupation based on gender and class that they must entirely devote themselves too. The authoritarian rule of Gilead disciplines many characters into being docile, obedient and submissive in consequence of modified communication. Gilead is able to drastically change and maintain order in this society by the manipulation and alteration of phrases. Through the perception of color, defined phrases and biblical ceremonies is that Gilead is able to suppress an entire society. Gilead imposes compliancy to a Theocracy by the use of the colored uniforms, defines freedom, biblical references and objects such as a wall.
THE OPPRESSION OF WOMEN IN ATWOOD’S THE HANDMAID’S TALE AND THEIR WAYS OF RESISTING THE REGIME
In Gilead, women are treated like objects and all of their rights are taken away from them. They cannot vote, hold property or jobs, read, or do anything else that might cause them to become rebellious or independent, and undermine the men, or the state. Even the shops where the handmaids go to buy food do not have names on for them to read, just pictures. The only thing important about a woman now is her ovaries and her womb, as they are reduced to just their fertility.
Paula Hawkins, a well-known British author, once said, “I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head.” In Margaret Atwood’s futuristic dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale, a woman named Offred feels she is losing control over everything in her life. Offred lives in the Republic of Gilead. A group of fundamentalists create the Republic of Gilead after they murder the President of the United States and members of Congress. The fundamentalists use the power to their advantage and restrict women’s freedom. As a result, each woman is assigned a specific duty to perform in society. Offred’s husband and child are taken away from her and she is now forced to live her life as a Handmaid. Offred’s role in society is to produce a child
The most blatent form of control would of course be the punishments given for resistance and the retribution given out for disobeying the state. These, in Gilead, are really rather harsh and such things as homosexuality can resut in death, under the term "Gender treachery." This is positively appalling to any civilised person believing in equal rights and death is almost absurd for such a non-crime. It seems that the society has medieval tendencies, which can be expected seeing that it's main doctrine is taken from the most ancient book, the Bible. Still obviously this is no excuse for such barbaric acts in a modern society.
With these changes to society, members often felt bounded by Gilead and the ability to control one’s thoughts appears impossible, as Aunt Lydia tells Offred, “The Republic of Gilead, said Aunt Lydia, knows no bounds. Gilead is within you” (Atwood 23). It appears that Aunt Lydia believes that Gilead is an internal part of each individual and therefore, it is always helping to ‘shape’ one’s thoughts and actions. Gilead’s justification of why women don’t need an education is that since a woman’s purpose in society is to bear children and raise them, they no longer require an education to perform such duties. The male population of Gilead did not lose the same rights that the women lost, however, males still have restricted freedom and restricted access to materials (books, magazines, etc). The restrictions placed on women’s and men’s lives in Gilead appear to match a characteristic of a dystopia. Since men and women don’t receive the same education in Gilead due to the restrictions on freedom, it would be improper to consider Gilead a utopia.
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
Fear is power. Fear is ever-present in Gilead; it is implemented through violence and force. It is through fear that the regime controls the Gileadian society. There is no way Offred, or the other Handmaids can avoid it. What used to be Harvard University, a
To dehumanize someone is to strip them of everything that makes them human, all their good qualities, all their basic rights, everything that can label them an individual. Similarly, in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the women in the Republic of Gilead are degraded in such a way that they are stripped of their previous selves. Women in Gilead are outfitted by their functions, forced to have sex and they, especially handmaids, are used as tools. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood utilizes motifs to further dehumanize the women of Gilead.
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.
The laws of Gilead dehumanizes women and takes away their rights as citizens to society. Gilead wasn’t always like that until the revolution overcame the town and took away women's rights. “In Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, women are totally under the control of male members of the patriarchal society; she describes a patriarchal society and reflects the political ideology in America of that time.” Women are downgraded without any authority and control by men. “Women are like birds that are kept in cages to stop them from flying. And the authorities make women believe that this society is very secure for them and they are protected in this way of living. They also make women believe that the new way is a better freedom and God will save them if they follow.” They are taking the laws made by Gilead and comparing