Preview
Preview

Atwood's Attention to Words in The Handmaid's Tale Essay

No Works Cited
Length: 1169 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Purple      
Open Document




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Atwood's Attention to Words in The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaids Tale illustrates that dictatorship can be established by
creating a state of fear once language controls are instituted. As a
tradition to dystopian novels, Atwood has drawn much attention to the
meaning of words and the significance of names, as well as the
prohibition for women to read or write, in order to portray Gilead as
a successful totalitarian state. Atwood is trying to make the point
that in a dystopian world, language can be the power.

The meaning of names is a central focus of the novel, because names
define people. Their worth and functions are summarized by the names.
To some extent, the names also discourage originality. This occurs
especially to the Handmaids, whose names all begin with the prefix
“Of”, plus their commanders names, forming names such as Offred,
Ofglen, and Ofwarren. This act taken by the Gileadian state totally
objectifies the Handmaids. They no longer have a status in the
society, and instead they become possessive items of the commanders.
In the case of Offred, she does not mention her real name throughout
the entire novel. In fact, Offred is probably numbed by the reality
that she doesn’t even want to mention her real name, as she once said,

“I must forget about my secret name and all ways back. My name is
Offred now, and here is where I live.” (p.185)

As a result, she is often perceived as an imaginary figure. In a way,
she has already lost her original identity, that we are unable to
trace her in the future. Here, Atwood is trying to draw the attention
that stripping people’s names may as well result in stripping their
individuality. Furthermore, she has created a system of titles to
oppress wome...


... middle of paper ...


... has tried to warn the readers
that there would be a genuine consequence if language is exploited.
What Atwood is trying to promote to the readers is that words aren’t
just words. Language is incredibly powerful for getting people to not
look at the reality of things, or for making things to be more
emotional than they need to be. Renaming can certainly be used to
create a state of fear through distinctive classification. More
importantly, it can significantly dehumanize people and take away
their identities. Other than that, religious influences also allow the
government to control the society psychologically. After all,
language is an extremely important device in The Handmaids Tale. A
good understanding of how language functions in the novel allows us to
become aware of how a totalitarian regime can maintain its power
through the control of language.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Essay on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale - I Tell, Therefore I Am In Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, women are subjected to unthinkable oppression. Practically every aspect of their life is controlled, and they are taught to believe that their only purpose is to bear children for their commander. These “handmaids” are not allowed to read, write or speak freely. Any type of expression would be dangerous to the order of the Gilead’s strict society. They are conditioned to believe that they are safer in this new society. Women are supposedly no longer exploited or disrespected (pornography, rape, etc.) as they once were....   [tags: Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale] 878 words
(2.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Essay examples - Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Chapter nine opening section two of the novel is mainly recalling the last chapters and about the narrator rediscovering herself, surfacing the truth. In section one we see the narrator talking in the present tense in a very descriptive form, outlining the novel. However in section two we see her talking in the past tense demonstrating the stories she is telling. The separation between the human and the natural world and the narrator’s struggle with language most directly portrays the novel's dualities....   [tags: Margaret Atwood Handmaid's Tale Essays] 1712 words
(4.9 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on The Importance of the Narrator of The Handmaid's Tale - The Importance of the Narrator of The Handmaid's Tale The creation of Offred, the passive narrator of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, was intentional. The personality of the narrator in this novel is almost as important as the task bestowed upon her. Atwood chooses an average women, appreciative of past times, who lacks imagination and fervor, to contrast the typical feminist, represented in this novel by her mother and her best friend, Moira. Atwood is writing for a specific audience, though through careful examination, it can be determined that the intended audience is actually the mass population....   [tags: Handmaid's Tale Essays] 998 words
(2.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood Restrictions Essays - “The Handmaid’s Tale”, by Margaret Atwood, is a documentary of the gender roles in the Gilead society and the quantity of restrictions placed on women. The purpose of Atwood’s book is to provide the readers a sense of reality. She attempts to convey the message that life can change in a moment and warns the inhabitants to not take advantage of the present day society. Readers of Atwood’s book should listen to her message because she wrote the book in a time period of the future so through her book she is making a prediction....   [tags: restrictions placed on pleople, inhuman]
:: 7 Works Cited
856 words
(2.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay about Atwood's Handmaid's Tale - The Handmaid's Tale presents an extreme example of sexism and misogyny by featuring the complete objectification of women in the society of Gilead. Yet by also highlighting the mistreatment of women in the cultures that precede and follow the Gileadean era, Margaret Atwood is suggesting that sexism and misogyny are deeply embedded in any society and that serious and deliberate attention must be given to these forms of discrimination in order to eliminate them. One of the more obvious examples of sexism that Atwood presents can be seen in her presentation of pre-Gilead society....   [tags: Misogyny, Sexism]
:: 1 Works Cited
896 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - James Fils-Aime The Handmaid’s Tale Fact or Fiction The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel in which Atwood creates a world which seems absurd and near impossible. Women being kept in slavery only to create babies, cult like religious control over the population, and the deportation of an entire race, these things all seem like fiction. However Atwood's novel is closer to fact than fiction; all the events which take place in the story have a base in the real world as well as a historical precedent....   [tags: essays research papers fc]
:: 2 Works Cited
1401 words
(4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - In Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, our eyes are open to an oppressive society of which seems to be the near future. Widespread sterility has led to the rich controlling young women of childbearing age, who are called “handmaidens”. The tale is narrated by Kate, also known as “Offred”, her handmaid name. She relates her struggle throughout in the most vivid of ways. The struggle around her: the oppressive Republic of Gilead, and the struggle within herself: her effort to maintain her sanity....   [tags: essays research papers] 621 words
(1.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Rebellion in The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood Essay - Rebellion in The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood 'Rebel' is a term, which is highly weighed down with emotion. In society today we perceive a rebel to be a figure opposing a much stronger majority. We distinguish the rebel to be a character who fights for his/her own ideals. We see a person that will do anything almost being ruthless to destroy the boundaries set up against him/her by the stronger mass. We witness the rebel as an individual who deliberately defines a battlefield and two fighting fronts....   [tags: Rebel The Handmaids Tale Literature Essays] 2652 words
(7.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Feminism in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale - Feminism in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale In The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood explores the role that women play in society and the consequences of a countryís value system. She reveals that values held in the United States are a threat to the livelihood and status of women. As one critic writes, “the author has concluded that present social trends are dangerous to individual welfare” (Prescott 151).  The novel is set in the near future in Gilead, formerly the U.S., at a time when the population rate is rapidly declining....   [tags: Feminism Feminist Women Criticism]
:: 2 Works Cited
1097 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Presentation of the Commander in The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - The Presentation of the Commander in The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood The commander can be seen as a man torn between two worlds, he was one of the founders of Gilead yet still enjoys and yearns for the pleasures of the old society he managed to break. It can be seen as ' he has made his bed and now he must sleep in it'. The commander is cool and collected on the surface but underneath he is bitter and corrupted for the world he has managed to create. I believe the commander secretly longs for the world to be as it once was and this is why he savours his time with Offred because she may remind him of life before Gilead; it is also ironic how both these char...   [tags: Papers] 485 words
(1.4 pages)
Good Essays [preview]