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The Handmaid's Tale Essay

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The Handmaid's Tale

Serena Joy is the most powerful female presence in the hierarchy of Gileadean women; she is the central character in the dystopian novel, signifying the foundation for the Gileadean regime. Atwood uses Serena Joy as a symbol for the present dystopian society, justifying why the society of Gilead arose and how its oppression had infiltrated the lives of unsuspecting people.

Atwood individualises the character of Serena Joy, as her high status in the society demands power and the domination over the inferior members of the Commander’s household, such as Offred – a handmaid. This shows that Serena Joy has a sense of control, using this privilege to become “a woman who might bend the rules”; this is similar to the Commander, as Serena Joy is able to associate herself with the black market, for example “exchanging trade” for relics of the past such as cigarettes. Through the black market, Atwood suggests that Serena Joy is a representation of a society based on a biblical view, thriving to become pure and perfect on the surface, yet the powerful figures that should exemplify obedience to the rules are constantly exploiting their authority.

Additionally, the presentation of Serena Joy as a character it made interesting by her contradiction of accepting the new-found Gileadean society; it is plain that she resents the arrangement of having a handmaid in the house keenly as a violation of her marriage; “My husband. I want that to be clear. Till death do...


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