Society in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Essay

Society in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Essay

Length: 2516 words (7.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Research Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

“Atwood’s feminism is an integral part of her critical approach, just
as her concept of criticism is inseparable from her creative work”
Walter Pache (1).

A dystopia is a fictional society, usually existing in a future time
period, in which the condition of life is extremely difficult due to
deprivation, oppression or terror. In most dystopian fiction, a
corrupt government creates or sustains the poor quality of life, often
conditioning the masses to believe the society is proper and just,
even perfect. Most dystopian fiction takes place in the future but
purposely incorporates contemporary social trends taken to horrendous

The novel, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, by Margaret Atwood focuses on the
choices made by those controlling the society of Gilead in which
increasing the population and preservation of mankind is the main
objective, instead of freedom or happiness. The society has undergone
many physical changes that have extreme psychological consequences. I
believe Atwood sees Gilead as the result of attitudes and events in
the early 1980s, which have spiralled out of control. ‘The Handmaid’s
Tale’ reflects Atwood’s views and critiques on civilisation. In an
interview with Gabriele Metzler Atwood says, “There is nothing in the
book that hasn’t already happened. All things described in the book
people have already done to each other”(2).

Throughout ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Offred is constantly conscious of her
life before Gilead. This is reflected in the sections of the book
headed “Night”. Offred often refers back to her life with her daughter
and Luke, “Luke was in the living room. He put his arms around me. We
were both feeling miserable. How were we to know we were happy, even
then? Becaus...

... middle of paper ...

...e extreme, she managed to visualise a
dystopian world, which suppressed people’s freedom of choice. “Atwood
is known as an outspoken defender of humanitarian values, an able and
active advocate for woman’s rights and for freedom of speech” Nathalie
Cooke (6). Therefore I do believe that Atwood’s novel ‘The Handmaid’s
Tale’ offers a very strong critique of American society in the 1980s.


(1) Walter Pache: “A Certain Frivolity”: Margaret Atwood’s Literary

(2) Gabriele Metzler: “Creativity”: An Interview with Margaret Atwood

(3) Bernard Richards: Margaret Atwood

(4) Gabriele Metzler: “Creativity”: An Interview with Margaret Atwood

(5) Lorna Irvine: “Recycling Culture: Kitsch, Camp and Trash”:
Margaret Atwood’s Fiction

(6) Nathalie Cooke: “Lions, Tigers and Pussycats”: Margaret Atwood
(Auto) Biographically

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The United States as a Dystopian society in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale

- In the Days of Anarchy To live in a country such as the United States of America is considered a privilege. The liberties that American citizens are entitled to, as declared in the Constitution, makes the United States an attractive and envied democracy. It would be improbable to imagine these liberties being stripped from American society. However, Margaret Atwood depicts the United States as a dystopian society in her novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The first society is modern America, with its autonomy and liberal customs....   [tags: Margaret Atwood Handmaid's Tale]

Free Essays
1122 words (3.2 pages)

Dystopia Society in the Handmaid´s Tale by Margaret Atwood Essay

- ... Another similarity between Atwood’s novel and our society today is the repressive rules for the women. In Pakistan women have little to no rights. The policies that the Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale is similar to the rules Pakistan have for their women. In the Gilead society the handmaids have to cover up their bodies, wear long dresses, and cover their faces with vial’s and wings. These rules for the women are the same if not similar in Afghanistan, India, and some south Asian countries. In Pakistan women can be raped and if no evidence is found to prove it was rape the men could get away with it and the women could be charged with pre-marital sex and sentence to prison....   [tags: rights, religious, politics]

Research Papers
1016 words (2.9 pages)

Essay about A Society's Self Destruction in The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

- A Society's Self Destruction in The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale Many fictitious novels written today mirror real life; this tactic can provide readers with a sense of formality. Yet in some cases, fictitious novels provide readers with the shocking realization of a society's self destruction. I believe The Handmaid's Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, falls in the second category. Issues raised in this novel such as manipulation, public punishment, ignorance, and pollution are problems we face in the world today....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
1358 words (3.9 pages)

The Oppression of Individual Differences Essay

- In a world full of structure, the slightest wrong move could very well be one’s last. The opportunities are endless, but the risks are dangerously high. Kathleen Cameron stated, “Imagine a society where women are tortured and killed for disobeying this law- a society where religious beliefs, the political structure, and female sexual identity are so intertwined as to justify and require the control of women’s freedom, the sexual victimization of women, and the torture and murder of women who do not comply” (298)....   [tags: The Handmaid´s Tale, Margret Atwood, society]

Research Papers
1496 words (4.3 pages)

The Handmaid 's Tale By A Dystopian Society Driven By Numerous Abuses On Women

- The Handmaid’s Tale is a story of a dystopian society driven by numerous abuses on women. The concept of intellectual abuse of power is very broad in manner of punishing women in the state of Gilead. The main character, Offred, demonstrates how the ideology of the upper class government in Gilead is used to suppress and abuse the lower class woman, by the Commanders and the Aunts; who fall under a high-up in Gilead’s hierarchy. She is forced to enter the cruel place like Gilead, where woman are treated worst than animals....   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood, Abuse]

Research Papers
1063 words (3 pages)

The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood Essay

- Within every literary work there lies a resounding truth which perfectly displays the dangers of a broken world or society. In her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood uses different ideas in her novel to convey how passivity in a broken society has detrimental effects for everyone. Throughout the novel, it is displayed that in such a dystopian society, nothing can progress in the right direction if nobody has the courage to defy the system. Through Atwood’s context given throughout her text, her stance on passivity is clearly shown as one that urges others to stand and fight instead of becoming submissive to a fragmented society....   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood]

Research Papers
1042 words (3 pages)

The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood Essay

- Every human being needs certain rights to survive. There are the fundamental ones; food, water, air, shelter, but there are also other ones that are equally important to survive: love, communication, compassion, freedom. In many dystopian societies one of these fundamental needs are missing because the society is afraid that they will break the control that they have over the people. In the novel The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood the society is no different. Narrated by a woman named Offred who once was happy who had a family and a job, she shows the reader that to keep people quiet the society takes away people 's freedom, their ability to choose, their ability to be with and talk to...   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood]

Research Papers
1344 words (3.8 pages)

The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood Essay

- “[W]e are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else 's legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make” (Berry). In The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood the protagonist Offred lives through a changing of society, in which is described by Aunt Lydia in the new society as the difference of freedom to and freedom from. The complexities of freedom are examined through social norms, relationships, and safety in society....   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood]

Research Papers
1344 words (3.8 pages)

The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood Essay examples

- In Margaret Atwood 's The Handmaid 's Tale, society is meant to have overcome the sinful tendencies of modern culture. People who would rebel against the new status quo are broken through torture and conditioning. The character Moira acts as a symbol of the main characters, Offred 's, hope and need for rebelliousness. The perceived loss of this hope causes Offred to begin a spiral of indifference which leads her to cling to Nick as a replacement and a way to find meaning in an extra meaningless life....   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood]

Research Papers
992 words (2.8 pages)

Representation of Colors in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Essay

- Representation of Colors in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Imagine if you can, living in a world that tells you what you are to wear, where to live, as well as your position and value to society. In Margaret Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale, she shows us the Republic of Gilead does just that. Offred, the main character, is a Handmaid, whose usefulness is her ovaries. Handmaids are ordered to live in a house with a Commander, his wife, and once a month attempt to become pregnant by the Commander....   [tags: Handmaid's Tale Atwood Margaret Essays]

Research Papers
1784 words (5.1 pages)