Disintegration of Civiliation in Henry IV Part 2, The Handmaid's Tale and The Waste Land

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The role of power is central to both 'The Handmaid's Tale' and Henry IV Part 2, the protagonist in each text have contrasting views, in the former Offred craves any power she is able to find whereas the latter sees Hal shirking his responsibilities. Atwood suggests throughout 'The Handmaid's Tale' that people would willingly tolerate subjugation as long as they feel they have some power, Offred recollects that her mother once told her it is "truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations." For Offred this compensation manifests in the form of Nick, despite her situation she becomes complacent, although this life bears great restrictions compared to before Gilead her relationship with Nick allows her to claim some small freedom, and allows her to tolerate the oppression she undergoes far more easily, almost happily. While Offred is trapped by the society she lives in Hal is trapped by confines of his own design, despite his seemingly powerful role as prince, he ironically feels trapped by the image he cultivated to feel free from the pressures of princedom. While Hal's 'heart bleeds inwardly that [his] father is so sick' he is aware that, due to his deliberate distancing from his father and his role as Prince, people would 'think thee a most princely hypocrite' to be so distressed at his father's illness. It is only after Hal is willingly to forgo his rebellious lifestyle that he is able to truly regain a feeling of power and control, his 'preparation for rule involves reconciliation with his father and acceptance of family responsibilities' (Johnson, 368) a key moment of change for Hal is his dismissal of his old friend Falstaff. We see Hal gradually reject Falstaff as a paternal role model; ... ... middle of paper ... ...s, Colleen. The love song of T.S. Eliot: elegiac homoeroticism in the early poetry. Gender, Desire, and Sexuality in T. S. Eliot. Ed. Cassandra Laity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. p. 20 Porfert, Joseph. Hell On Earth: The Feminist Dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale. http://al.odu.edu/english/pubspdfs/Joseph-Porfert-essay.pdf [accessed on 07/01/2014] Shakespeare, William. Henry IV Part 2. Ed. Peter Davidson. Penguin; New Ed edition, 2005 Tolan, Fiona. Margaret Atwood: Feminism and Fiction. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007. p. 152-53 Rabkin, N. Rabbits, Ducks, and Henry V in Shakespeare an Anthology of Criticism and Theory 1945-2000. Ed, McDonald, R. Blackwell 2004, p.249-250) Rackin, Phyllis Shakespeare and Women. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. p. 68 2008-9 http://www.royal.gov.uk/historyofthemonarchy/kingsandqueensofengland/thelancastrians/ henryiv.spx [accessed 22/12/2012]

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