Margaret Atwood and John Wyndham both write of distopian societies
within the science-fiction genre to explore the varying ways in which
society can abuse authority in order to gain control. This violent and
dehumanising repression is used to create vulnerability and fear among
the society as a method of control. The writers use the narrators
Offred and David to explore the response to oppression and both its
physical and psychological effects.
Atwood sets "The Handmaids Tale" in the future with the significant
setting of Cambridge, Massachusetts. This Puritan stronghold in the US
colonial period had created a theocracy, much like Gilead itself.
Wyndham also sets his novel in the future; the society of Waknuk is
evocative of the Salem witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. Adam-Troy
Castro says "The Chrysalids" is a novel which "drives Harry Potter, it
drives the X-Men, and it has driven a number of other stories about
children who find out they are the next stage in Mankind's evolution".
However, I do not think "The Chrysalids" only concerns the future and
evolution, Wyndham uses this idea to explore the abuse of religion and
control and also the narrow-mindedness of those who judge by
appearance, a tendency that is still present today.
Puritanism and the recurring symbol of the past play a significant
role in both novels. Although both novels are set in the future, they
both possess societies based on past examples of oppression. D. Lundie
comments that Waknuk is "a society of the future with a setting from
the past". Extending Lundie's point, it is evident in the ...
... middle of paper ...
of the Taliban, although I feel Atwood has captured the control which
the USA presently holds over the world. Similarly, "The Chrysalids"
may pose a similar warning, but I feel it is rather a reflection on
the recognition of the bigotry and narrow-mindedness of the world
which will perhaps never change.
In conclusion, it is obvious that both Atwood in "The Handmaids Tale"
and Wyndham in "The Chrysalids" employ a variety of methods in order
to reinforce the level of control inflicted in each society. The
regimes use violent and cruel methods, positioning people at a lower
level by dehumanisation in order to take complete control. Atwood and
Wyndham express the nature of power-hungry elites in the extent of
their use of shocking and disturbing methods to control their
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