What Analysis of the Female Role Does Atwood Offer in "The Handmaid's Tale?"

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The Handmaid's Tale is set in the early twentieth century in the futuristic Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States of America. The Republic has been founded by a Christian response to declining birthrates. The government rules using biblical teachings that have been distorted to justify the inhumane practices. In Gilead, women are categorized by their age, marital status and fertility. Men are categorised by their age. Women all have separate roles in society, and although these roles are different, they all share the same theme: Every woman is confined to the home and has a domestic duty. Marthas are cooks and housekeepers, and handmaids have one duty, which is to reproduce, growing and giving birth to babies to the childless…show more content…
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. `I used to think of my body as an instrument of pleasure...' `...I'm a cloud congealed around a central object,' The language that Atwood uses here shows that a woman's womb is the only solid, real thing that they possess. A woman's emotions, feelings and other body parts are like `a cloud', they are insignificant and not real, and are seen to just float around the solid object that is their womb. Enforcers of the regime, such as the Aunts believe that this is a better, safer world for women. One of them states that in the time before, women had freedom to, and now they have freedom from. This means that they will not be raped or abused, they will not be whistled at, and will not have to be scared of anything when walking alone. However, what is happening to them in this new society, is, in reality, much worse. The novel is a shocking look at the future. With an original
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