David Livingstone Smith’s essay “Less Than Human” explores the topic of dehumanization and allows us to understand how it has changed the society in the past and continues to do so. The essay talks about how humans are able to belittle each other and hurt one another as it is a norm in this world now. To better understand his essay and his meaning behind it we must first analyze his purpose, audience, evidence, arrangement, implications and his word choice.
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
There wasn't a lot of choice, but there was some and this is what I chose’’ (Atwood 105). This quote from The Handmaid’s Tale shows that Offred is becoming convinced that it was her own choice to conform to her social role and that she starts to accept the system and the violations that are being committed against women. However, there is no actual choice for Offred, because if she would refuse to accept her social role it would have severe consequences. ‘’The social requirement to conform to gender norms […] often reinforce women’s inequality and powerlessness and limit the capacity for individual autonomy’’ (Anleu
Rebellion of an individual occurs when there is a difference of opinion. This conventional trait among society allows diverse ideas to be suggested and added upon for a better future and eventually an all around Utopia. Rebellious attitude is depicted throughout George Orwell’s novel 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale in a subtle, yet powerful way. The faint, disobedient remarks made by their characters suggest their hope in the future generations opposed to the present one. When a rebellious mindset comes in contact with an oppressed society with strict rules and regulations, the outcome suggests a better future through the realization of mistakes and unity for a common goal.
In “The Handmaid 's Tale” by Margaret Atwood, there is the addressing of freedom, abuse of power, feminism, rebellion and sexuality. The audience is transported to a disparate time where things normalized in our current society are almost indistinguishable. Atwood uses each character carefully to display the set of theme of rebellion within the writing, really giving the reader a taste of what the environment is like by explaining detailed interactions, and consequences as well as their role in society.
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.
Although Offred accepts the standards and criterions of her society, she keeps her individuality and refuses to forget the past. She remembers having had an identity of her own and strives to hold on to it as best as she can. She puts a claim on her temporary room in her Commander's house; it becomes a sanctuary for her true self. Her room becomes a place of
Dehumanized its a very strong word but also a very strong thing. Being dehumanized is being controlled, and also being scared of the person who is controlling you.
"Dehumanization, although a concrete historical fact, is not a given destiny but the result and unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed" (Freire). This quote by Paulo Freire encompasses the destructive reality of dehumanization, which can be observed throughout the history of the world. This concept of removing another's humanity and dignity has left scars on the hearts of minorities who were considered to be unworthy of basic human rights. While the sinfulness of creation has lead to many aspects of moral decay, dehumanization could be considered to be the pinnacle of its depravity. Ultimately, this has lead to violence, war, and even genocide. Overall, this term can be defined by the way in which it labels people who are different, devalues human life, and destroys the humanity of those who institute it.
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.
Bruno Bettelheim once said, “Punishment may make us obey the orders we are given, but at best it will only teach an obedience to authority, not a self-control which enhances our self-respect.” More often than not, those surrounded by rules feel pressured to adhere to them due to the fear of repercussions. Even so, it is not guaranteed people will comply. Sometimes, being bound by rules can only make one feel rebellious. This proves to be true in Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction novel, The Handmaid's Tale. Through characterization, flashbacks, and point of view, Atwood demonstrates how strict rules lead to the temptation for defiance, despite the possible consequences.
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 Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood writes about a dystopia society. Atwood used situations that were happening during the time she began writing her novel, for example, women’s rights, politics, and in religious aspects. Atwood’s novel is relevant to contemporary society. There are similarities between Atwood’s novel and our society today, which lends to the possibility that our modern society might be headed to a less intense version of this dystopia society.