30th August 2017

The Handmaid’s Tale Practice

The Handmaid’s Tale


The most challenging ideas in a text are found in the detail

The Handmaid’s Tale is a well-written and captivating novel that showcases a totalitarian regime and its impacts on women in particular. As readers, we live in a place a freedom; freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom to think and act as we wish. Atwood is successful in conveying warning to the viewers that a dystopian future could be possible for our future. Atwood presents ideas of a standard dystopian genre, she warns us that dictators such as Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un could threaten a totalitarian regime in our society and cause corruption – similar to Gilead in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ The use of setting allows us to recognize the themes of control of women conveyed through Offred. Control through fear is prevalent in the text through the totalitarian regime and the government’s control of women through surveillance and curfews. Women are refused communication of any sort – no writing, speaking in non-biblical terms or individual expression through action. “All you have to do, I tell myself, is keep your mouth shut and look stupid. It shouldn’t be that hard.” Women are the main victims in the society which Atwood has illustrated – her vision on society reflects through this, as men have control and power. Women are controlled by fear as they are constantly exploited and advantaged – Offred is forced to have sex with the Commander and she fears if she disobeys the law, she could be sent to the colonies. This fear that lingers in the back of Offred’s mind is a form of control; she fears for her life, therefore she must comply with the regulations to survive. Women are denied any rights and thus they are inferior to the men in Gilead – men also have immense control of women. Gilead is incredibly dysfunctional as it controls women, attains a hierarchy where men are superior, and follows absurd regimes. This is shown in the novel as women are to be either Handmaids, Martha’s or Wives to fit the societal mold of Gilead. Handmaid’s are controlled by wearing only red clothing, living in a house they are told to, they have their children and husbands taken away from them. Whilst their sole purpose of existence is to provide children for other families, essentially they are “walking wombs.” The challenging idea – control of women, helps us recognize the setting and how Gilead conducts it’s totalitarian regime and control of women. 

INTRO: Our reading experience is heightened when we care about the fate of our protagonist

For decades and centuries, women have been suppressed by their male counterparts. Unfortunately despite their efforts women still find it difficult to make headway into equality. Atwood has drawn attention to the extent to which women are mistreated in the compelling novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ It is through the fate of protagonist Offred that the viewers reading experience is heightened. Offred is a character in this novel that helps to convey the oppression that women experience on a day to day basis . Through the ideas of control through women, control through fear and control through language, the readers engage with Offred and gain empathy for the trauma she endures. 


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