Essay on Feminism in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

Essay on Feminism in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

Length: 1097 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Feminism in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

In The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood explores the role that women play in society and the consequences of a countryís value system. She reveals that values held in the United States are a threat to the livelihood and status of women. As one critic writes, “the author has concluded that present social trends are dangerous to individual welfare” (Prescott 151). 

The novel is set in the near future in Gilead, formerly the U.S., at a time when the population rate is rapidly declining. A religious regime has taken over, and women are used as breeders to boost the declining birth rate among the Caucasian race. Women are owned by men and are breeders. In the New World Order love doesnít exist, but the act of love is the only form of intimacy.

Atwood gives readers a firsthand look at the second class treatment of women through the eyes of Offred, the handmaid. Offred has been ripped away from her husband and daughter to become a breeder for someone whom she doesnít love. How does a person respond to this type of situation?

Atwood reveals Offredís struggle by introducing the foil character, Moira. Moira doesnít get to tell the reader her story; rather, it is told through Offred. This narrative choice accentuates the difference between the two women. Both women dislike the situation in Gilead. However, while Offred resigns herself to her lot, Moira rebels against the regime. Moiraís character unfolds with her escape from the rehabilitation centerña risk none of the other handmaids, including Offred, would ever dare to take. In fact, Offred is frightened with the idea of escaping, not because of the consequences, but more because she is ìlosing the taste of freedomî and findi...

... middle of paper ...

... voice their wants and needs. In this particular exchange, Atwood reveals both the difference between the sexes and their need to be on a more intimate and equal platform.

While The Handmaid's Tale conveys the oppression of women, it also reveals the significant role women have in society. Atwood gets the point across that just as they can be oppressed by men, women can equally oppress themselves. Through Offred's eyes, comparisons between today's society and the possible consequences of one's attitudes are examined. The Handmaid's Tale slowly uncovers the many facets of women and the vital role they have as members of society.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. Anchor Books: New York, New York, 1985.

Prescott, Peter S. "A long road to liberation". Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jean C. Steve. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1984.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood Essay

- Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, published in 1985, explores the concept of a dystopian totalitarian Christian theocracy, the Republic of Gilead, that overthrows the United States government at an unspecified point in the near future. Gilead enforces a highly controlled patriarchal and militaristic society based on fundamentalist biblical principles. This new order is necessitated by widespread infertility caused by toxic pollution and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as many women ceasing to want children....   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood]

Strong Essays
2094 words (6 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]

Strong Essays
1344 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood

- Maiden in Distress Freedom. Everybody desires it, but not everyone has it. In third world countries, many people fall victim to slavery and many more do not have the freedom to seek what they want. In "The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood the main character, Offred, struggles to find freedom in her prison like home called the Red Center, her uniform chains her to the life given to her, and she carries a hope that she will one day escape the Red Center. Offred is a handmaid that lives in the Red Center, a building in which the handmaids, the marthas, the aunts, the housewife, and the commander live in....   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood]

Strong Essays
1136 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood

- The Handmaid 's tale is a dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood in 1985. The novel takes place in the not too distant future where because of disease and war the government of the United States is replaced by a new theocratic society called Republic of Gilead. The new government which is established uses the bible as a base. The bible is also used as a justification system to all the new laws and also to justify what is moral. In theory, you would expect a perfect society if religion was used to rule, however Atwood shows the reader many reasons why that would may not be true....   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood]

Strong Essays
1325 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]

Strong Essays
992 words (2.8 pages)

The Misogyny Of The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood Essay

- Flawless Flawed Women; The Internalized Misogyny in The Handmaid’s Tale Women, are socialized to internalize a hatred of femininity and espouse the belief that they “aren’t like other girls” to separate ourselves from the generalizations. Phrases like “Women are catty” “Women constantly gossip, and are shallow” “Boys have less drama” homogenize the entire female gender down to a few negative stereotypes. When women perpetuate sexist stereotypes it is called internalized misogyny. Women are guilty of perpetuating misogyny as often as men....   [tags: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood]

Strong Essays
1191 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

- I Tell, Therefore I Am In Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, women are subjected to unthinkable oppression. Practically every aspect of their life is controlled, and they are taught to believe that their only purpose is to bear children for their commander. These “handmaids” are not allowed to read, write or speak freely. Any type of expression would be dangerous to the order of the Gilead’s strict society. They are conditioned to believe that they are safer in this new society. Women are supposedly no longer exploited or disrespected (pornography, rape, etc.) as they once were....   [tags: Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale]

Free Essays
878 words (2.5 pages)

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Essay

- Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Love of God replaces love of humanity in Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale. Offred’s recollections of her past life, especially of her husband, are ones filled with passion and happiness as she remembers his tenderness towards her. Much more emphasis is put on the physical human form in her memories; she often remembers lying with her husband while she wears little or no clothing. Appreciation of the human form is an essential component of loving humanity....   [tags: Margaret Atwood Handmaid Tale Essays]

Strong Essays
1418 words (4.1 pages)

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Essay examples

- Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Chapter nine opening section two of the novel is mainly recalling the last chapters and about the narrator rediscovering herself, surfacing the truth. In section one we see the narrator talking in the present tense in a very descriptive form, outlining the novel. However in section two we see her talking in the past tense demonstrating the stories she is telling. The separation between the human and the natural world and the narrator’s struggle with language most directly portrays the novel's dualities....   [tags: Margaret Atwood Handmaid's Tale Essays]

Strong Essays
1712 words (4.9 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]

Strong Essays
1784 words (5.1 pages)