Margaret Atwood 's The Handmaid 's Tale Essay

Margaret Atwood 's The Handmaid 's Tale Essay

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Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale provides a look into a dystopian world of complete male dominance. Women have been entirely denied of their basic needs, and are no longer able to live as individuals. For decades preceding the creation of Gilead, women were regarded as subordinate to men. These inequalities often led women to believe they were inferior and lacked the knowledge and power men seemed to display. They were not granted access to voting rights, equal wages, or job opportunities. As the years progressed, women fought for equal rights; however, these accomplishments were soon revoked with the transition of the United States, into a totalitarian region known as The Republic of Gilead. The new Republic’s regime resulted in the demise of women`s rights and ultimately reversed the progress which had been accomplished up until that time. Women inhabiting the Republic became accustomed to the new regulations, which destroyed their inner confidence and compromised the value of their own life. Atwood invites the readers to observe a Handmaid named Offred and her perspective on the Republic’s subordination of women. Atwood incorporates the use of symbolism, allusion and conflict to illustrate the negative effects which arise when women do not have access to sufficient intellectual stimuli, their knowledge and capabilities are not utilized and ultimately their entire existence is predetermined.

Atwood uses symbolism to reflect the entrapment women living in Gilead are experiencing. During a pivotal conversation between the Commander and Offred on the subject of how the Republic was formed, Offred contemplates her own existence, imagining she is entirely confined, stating, “I lie flat, the damp air above me like a lid” (Atwood...


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...e, the world previous to Gilead was witnessing an optimistic future. In Atwood’s dystopian novel, these rights soon disappeared, resulting in the conditioning of women to behave appropriately in society. They were depleted of their sexual desires, forced to conform to their commander’s wishes, and ultimately donated their bodies as surrogates. Their right to access contraception or abortion had been completely revoked, leaving them without any control. No longer were they preparing for a future closer to overall equality, but rather succumbing to a present day hell, where the idea of women of power is a myth. Atwood uses symbolism, allusion and conflict to illustrate the barrier between men and women. She warns the readers of the societal troubles resulting from female restrictions and challenges them to work towards a future where men and women are viewed as equals.

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