The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Essay

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Essay

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“There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from,” (Atwood 24). The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, is a novel set in the near future where societal roles have severely changed. The most notable change is that concerning women. Whereas, in the past, women have been gaining rights and earning more “freedom to’s”, the women in the society of The Handmaid’s Tale have “freedom froms”. They have the freedom from being abused and having sexist phrases yelled at them by strangers. While this may seem like a safer society, all of the “safeness” comes at a drastic cost. Atwood depicts a dystopia in The Handmaid’s Tale through totalitarian regime and the systematic oppression and dehumanization of women by the patriarchy.
Atwood was born on November 18th, 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Her father was a forest entomologist who conducted research for the government, and because of this, their family lived in the wilderness of northern Quebec every year from November to April. Even though Atwood had already begun writing at this point, she says that she was told that “there were five things a girl could be: nurse, teacher, airline stewardess, typist and home economist,” (Margaret). This discrimination may have assisted in leading her to become a feminist. Atwood’s feminist perspective contributed to the feminist dystopia she created in The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood’s writing was also influenced by the mythical and biblical images used in the writing of Northrop Frye, a noted critic she studied under during college. Atwood’s first published novel, The Edible Woman, written in 1969, pegged her as a feminist writer, ...


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Cooper, Pamela. “Sexual Surveillance And Medical Authority in Two Versions Of The
Handmaid’s Tale.” Journal Of Popular Culture 28.4 (1995): 49-66. Literary Reference
Center. Web. 12 Dec. 2013
Feuer, Lois. "The Calculus Of Love And Nightmare: The Handmaid's Tale And The Dystopian
Tradition." Critique 38.2 (1997): 83. Literary Reference Center. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.
"Margaret Atwood." Newsmakers. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Biography in Context. Web. 13 Dec.
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Stein, Karen F. "CRITICAL READINGS: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale:
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