Societal Resistance and Control in "The Handmaid's Tale" Essay

Societal Resistance and Control in "The Handmaid's Tale" Essay

Length: 1372 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The words control and Gilead, the setting for the novel "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, are interchangeable. Not only is control a pivotal feature of the novel and its plot, it consequently creates the subplots, the characters and the whole world because of its enormity in the Republic of Gilead. Resistance also features heavily, as does its results, mainly represented in the salvagings, particicution and the threat of the colonies.

Control dominates all aspects of Gileadian society, from minor, seemingly petty normalities such as the clothes allowed, all the way up to how and who to have sexual relations with. Unimaginable in this day, Atwood represents modern society gone sour, something which is chillingly close enough to reality to get worried about.

As just mentioned, Uniform is a necessity of Gileadian society, for all layers of the hierarchy, even the top. Commanders wear black, wives blue, whilst the Marthas sport green overalls and the econowives symbolically flaunting their use throughout the home, rather than for one specific task, wearing striped clothing. The Handmaid's themselves wear blood red, a sign of fertility. Each item worn has some significance readying to this fertility even their "flat heeled shoes to save the spine."

"Everything except the wings around my face is red... I never looked good in red, it's not my colour."

The wings worn on the head prevent others from seeing their face and vice versa, prevents them from looking anywhere except the direction in which they are facing, limiting their options to stray. All garments cover every inch of skin; Ankle length skirt, full sleeves and red gloves all worn by the Handmaid's prevent temptation for others and t...

... middle of paper ..., drinkers, a piece of the underground past jumps into Offred's life and she is astounded. Thanks to the commander she also meets Moira, her long time friend from before Gilead. This act of resistance from the commander brings Offred a lot and if he were caught, would face serious charges.

Both men and women are severely controlled throughout everyday life in "The Handmaid's Tale." Recreation is minimal, sexual intercourse is purely for creation and the nuclear family is a thing of the past. Elizabeth Atwood provides a dystopian world full of wrong doing, manipulation and emotional numbness stemming from a government in Gilead that controls all aspects of life for it's people. Resistance is rife throughout which is appealing to the reader, implying that even under the severity of such reality, the human spirit will fight for equality or at least fairness.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Handmaid's Tale: Societal Complacency Essay

- After reading the Handmaid's Tale, I felt that Societal Complacency was the most critical aspect to the success of the Gilead Society. The Republic of Gilead is a run by a strict Old Testament religious doctrine. This government does not tolerate anyone who does not conform, it is run mostly by fear. Fear of death or the wall or being sent to radioactive colonies. This new government is cruel towards women, it robbed them of their humanity under the guise of protecting them. This new republic has forced women to give up jobs, forbidden them from reading, they control or regulate sexual activity as well as reproduction and birth, they have also prohibited or limited speech between women and e...   [tags: Gilead society, fear, Margaret Artwood]

Strong Essays
1139 words (3.3 pages)

Free Handmaid's Tale Essays: An Analysis

- The Handmaid's Tale The novel, The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood focuses on the choices made by the society of Gilead in which the preservation and security of mankind is more highly regarded than freedom or happiness. This society has undergone many physical changes that have led to extreme psychological ramifications. I think that Ms. Atwood believes that the possibility of our society becoming as that of Gilead is very evident in the choices that we make today and from what has occured in the past....   [tags: Handmaid's Tale Essays]

Free Essays
651 words (1.9 pages)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Essay

- “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”....   [tags: freedom, offred, women]

Strong Essays
2479 words (7.1 pages)

Essay on The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

- ... A woman will become a Martha if she is unable to reproduce. The Martha’s job is to look after the families. She has to care for the family, protect them, and to comfort them at all times. The Wives job is to essentially have her family. The wife is to make sure the Handmaid has her child and she is to be calm and peaceful. A woman would become one of the Wives if she was already married to her husband before the laws in their society changed. The color of clothing that the women wear is an important element because it helps to show the women’s power and privileges....   [tags: story analysis]

Strong Essays
646 words (1.8 pages)

Feminist Issues in The Handmaid's Tale Essay

- Feminist Issues in The Handmaid's Tale       The Handmaids Tale, by Margaret Atwood, can be classified as a distopic novel. The Republic of Gilead in The Handmaids Tale is characteristic of a distopia in that it is not intended as a prediction of the future of our society, but rather as a commentary on current social trends. Atwood has created this nation by isolating what she might consider the disturbing aspects of two diametrically opposed factions of our society (namely the religious right and radical feminism) as a theory as to what would happen if these ideals were taken to an extreme....   [tags: Feminism Feminist Women Criticism]

Strong Essays
1311 words (3.7 pages)

Class Discrimination in Gilead Essay

- Marxist Literary Theory Question #1: Does the work reinforce capitalist, imperialist, or other classist values. Thesis: In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood characterizes Handmaids, as women with expectations to obey the society’s hierarchy, as reproducers, symbolizing how inferior the Handmaid class is to others within Gilead; the class marginalization of Handmaids reveals the use of hierarchical control exerted to eliminate societal flaws among citizens. Cora’s unpleasant reaction towards Offred, when she arrives at their home, represents how other classes automatically feel superior over Handmaids....   [tags: The Handmaid´s Tale, hierarchy, Atwood]

Strong Essays
1196 words (3.4 pages)

The Handmaid's Tale Essay

- In Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaids Tale’, we hear a transcribed account of one womans posting ‘Offred’ in the Republic of Gilead. A society based around Biblical philosophies as a way to validate inhumane state practises. In a society of declining birth rates, fertile women are chosen to become Handmaids, walking incubators, whose role in life is to reproduce for barren wives of commanders. Older women, gay men, and barren Handmaids are sent to the colonies to clean toxic waste. Fear is power. Fear is ever-present in Gilead; it is implemented through violence and force....   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale Essays]

Strong Essays
904 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Food as a Control Mechanism in Handmaid's Tale

- Food as a Control Mechanism in Handmaid's Tale Food traditionally represents comfort, security, and family. We recall the traditional concept of comfort food and the large family dinners in Norman Rockwell's piece Freedom from Want. However, for many, food is also a serious, and potentially damaging, method of control. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are classic examples of psychological syndromes, related to control, that express themselves with eating disorders. Prisoners of war are denied food as the most basic method of torture and control....   [tags: Handmaid's Tale Essays]

Free Essays
833 words (2.4 pages)

A Handmaid's Tale Essay

- A Handmaid's Tale A new society is created by a group of people who strengthen and maintain their power by any means necessary including torture and death. Margaret Atwood's book, A Handmaid's Tale, can be compared to the morning after a bad fight within an abusive relationship. Being surrounded by rules that must be obeyed because of being afraid of the torture that will be received. There are no other choices because there is control over what is done, who you see and talk to, and has taken you far away from your family....   [tags: Handmaid's Tale Essays]

Free Essays
1650 words (4.7 pages)

The Handmaid's Tale Essay

- The Handmaid's Tale The Handmaids Tale, written by Margaret Attwood, goes on to explore the consequences that come to be from the reversal of womens rights in a society called Gilead. It is what one can consider a cautionary tale. In the new world of Gilead, a group of conservative religious extremists have taken power, and have turned the sexual revolution upside down. The society of Gilead is founded on what is to be considered a return to traditional values, gender roles and the subjugation of women by men, and the Bible is used as the guiding principle....   [tags: Margaret Atwood Handmaid's Tale Essays]

Strong Essays
1987 words (5.7 pages)