In this essay, I will discuss how the section of “jezebel’s” (chapter
31-39) contributes to the development of the novel of “The Handmaid’s
Tale” (Margaret Atwood). The term “jezebel” derives from the Bible, as
Jezebel was a woman who conveyed wickedness upon the kingdom of king
Ahab. Also, the term jezebel is often used to describe a dissenting
woman. The section of “jezebels” is significant in the novel of the
handmaids tale, as it provides different views as to the importance of
women, they roles etc, compared to the rest of the novel. This is one
point amidst many which I will discuss in this essay.
One of the most important issues that the “jezebels” sequence offers
contrasting to the rest of the novel, is the alternative view
regarding the roles of women.
In the chapters prior to jezebels Atwood illustrates that in Gilead
women are just items and objects and that they only function in
society is to give birth. This is exposed in numerous occasions in the
novel i.e. when offred portrays herself as a “cloud congealed around a
central object”. Offred say here that apart form her womb, which is a
women’s “central object”, women in Gilead are a “cloud” which
symbolises that they are nothing apart from a grey mist and are
something indistinct, unclear and of no use. If the women do not
conceive, they are labelled as “barrens” and so hence are sent to the
colonies from where they would eventually die.
Some women in the novel (the sterile handmaids) are often classified
as “unwomen” and so therefore are in Gilead’s view “inhuman”.
Women in terms of Gilead are possessions of men and have no liberty of
choice. They are not free to choose when or who t...
... middle of paper ...
use. Again here Atwood presents Offred in a negative manner.
Atwood then from showing Offred in a negative way, to positive, then
back to negative, she shows us the club of Jezebels and shows us hopes
for Offred again. She shows us that there are possibilities for
The reason why Margaret Atwood chooses to continuously show the
positive and subdued attitude of Offred, is to show the reader that in
Gilead there are ways out and ways of breaking the laws however, there
are also ways in which Gilead represses you and its up to the
individual in this society to choose whether not to take the risks.
The Jezebel sequence on the whole is highly significant to the novel.
We many different insights into Gilead in jezebels in contrast to the
rest of the novel, which makes it one of the most important sections
in the novel of “The Handmaids Tale”.
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