Women: The Expendable Commodity of Gilead Essays

Women: The Expendable Commodity of Gilead Essays

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Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale deals with how women are forced to accept roles based on extreme biblical laws distorted by a male dominated society; yet, there are women who willing participate in the reinforcement of these sexist and misogynistic values that subdue women. Gilead's government controls and shapes women's identities through oppression, however, indoctrinates women into believing that the roles stripping them of their independence are designed to protect and support them in fulfilling their biological purpose; fear of the Colonies and the Salvaging has intimidated women into becoming passive in order to survive, and forces them to report anyone failing to comply to the imposed hierarchical society. The new regime claims that it has given women more freedom than it has taken away, and since women are better protected they can become mothers without the fear of rape or being degraded by men or society; women are viewed as “functionaries” that must remain invisible by having matching uniforms, new names, and forgetting past identities in exchange for new ones consistent with the morals of Gilead (261). Handmaids fulfil no other purpose than to bear children, while barren wives must provide companionship for their husbands, perform domestic duties, and raise the children; every women’s body becomes a replaceable object controlled by Gilead, and all liberties and individuality are taken away, yet the Aunts justify and appear to encourage the subjugation of women. The utopian society employs fear as a powerful motivator to coerce its citizens to live a life of forced compliance and mental enslavement, by being passive and refusing to resist one is able to temporarily remain alive by escaping brutal punishment an...


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...heir gender roles, uniform, and new names instead of their individuality. Handmaids are forced to have children fathered by men they despise and unable to keep the babies they give birth to, while wives and Aunts serve Gilead with gender assigned roles until they are no longer beneficial to the new regime. The unforgiving punishment offenders fear to receive if caught defying the discourse of Gilead guards against women discovering an alternate lifestyle, which would hinder the survival of the new regime. There is a powerful resentment between women within the positions of the social hierarchy that prevents a united retaliation against Gilead, combined with their passivity and indifference the women fail to oppose the manner in which they are tyrannized.


Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The handmaid's tale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986.
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