Theme Of Individuality In The Handmaids Tale

1555 Words7 Pages
In places where conformity is required, often times individuality is lost completely. In her science fiction novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood tells a story from the point of view of Offred, a woman in a totalitarian America, revealing the idea that a controlling and restricting government can cause individuals to lose their sense of identity and individuality. In the beginning of the book, the reader is introduced to a new totalitarian America called Gilead. In Ildney Calvacanti’s words “ the oppression of women in Gilead... is political and economic and maintained by force,” (Calvacanti). In Gilead’s society, Offred is seen for what she can do rather than who she is. All of the women in general are not allowed any individual freedoms. Women cannot read, write, work, own things, or be with the person they love. The women’s “forbidden access to written language are metaphors for their overall reduced circumstances under the Gilead regime,” (Calvalcanti). They are grouped into specific jobs and can only do those jobs. Some women are wives and are only married to men with status, which are mostly commanders. Some women are marthas, who work as servants for the commanders and their wives, and some women are handmaids. These women are solely for fertility purposes. Each group of women is identified by the color of their identical dresses. The wives wear blue, the marthas wear green, and the handmaids wear “ the color of blood, which defines [them],” (Atwood 8). These women are defined by their jobs, by fertility, by pregnancy, by birth. Blood would obviously be connected to menstrual blood, but also, blood can be connected with death or suffering. The women in this society suffer daily having no freedom. The reader... ... middle of paper ... ...fred, a woman in the society of Gilead, revealing the idea that totalitarian governments’ restrictions lead to individuals’ loss of identity. Works Cited Andriano, Joseph. "The Handmaid's Tale as Scrabble Game." Essays on Canadian Writing, no. 48, Winter 92/93, p. 89. EBSCOhost, Accessed 5 Nov. 2017. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1986. Cavalcanti, Ildney. "Utopias of/f Language in Contemporary Feminist Literary Dystopias(*)." Utopian Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, 2000, p. 152. General OneFile, Accessed 5 Nov. 2017. Neuman, Shirley. "'Just a Backlash': Margaret Atwood, Feminism, and "The Handmaid's Tale.." University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 75, no. 3, Summer 2006, pp. 857-868. EBSCOhost, Accessed 5 Nov. 2017.
Open Document