Women in the Handmaid's Tale: Objectification and Value in Reproductive Qualities

Good Essays

Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale is a work of speculative fiction. The Republic of Gilead is a dystopic society, especially for the women. Women in the novel are stripped of their freedom, while men are entitled to a portion of their freedom. This novel is one that illustrates inequality towards women. A focus for the Republic of Gilead is to increase the declining birth rate. Within the phallocentric society of the Republic of Gilead, re-population results in women being objectified and valued for their reproductive qualities. The division of women in the Republic of Gilead is based on their reproductive qualities and status. Anatomy is destiny in the society of the Republic of Gilead. Wives are classified as elite …show more content…

Women's uniforms in the Republic of Gilead represent their functions within society. The varying colors of uniforms denote the status of the women wearing them. Uniforms can not ultimately be changed: "some people call them habits, a good word for them. Habits are hard to break" (p. 31). Uniforms consist of a dress and a veil. The function of the veil is to conceal and hide women as well as to prevent women from seeing. Wives wear powder blue uniforms, which are representative of the Virgin Mary and melancholy. Daughters of Wives wear white, which is symbolic of virginity. Aunts wear an army khaki color, which is representative of their partial military role. Marthas wear dull green, which is representative of the service industry: "dull green, like a surgeon's gown of the time before" (p. 30). Widows are typically seen in black, the color of mourning. Handmaids wear red which is representative of blood, menses, and birth: "red: the color of blood, which defines us" (p. 9). Unwomen wear gray, which is the color of ashes. Women that work at Jezebel's as prostitutes are not restricted to uniforms like the rest of the women in the Republic of Gilead. They wear outdated costumes from the time before that are highly eroticized. For women in the Republic of Gilead, there is no freedom of choice in attire. Women in the Republic of Gilead are objectified, viewed as property, controlled and lack freedom. The mobility of women

Get Access