The Social Situation In The Handmaid's Tale

990 words - 4 pages

Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaids Tale belongs to the genre of anti-utopian (dystopian) science fiction where we read about a woman's fictive autobiography of a nightmarish United States at the end of the twentieth century when democratic institutions have been violently overthrown and replaced by the new fundamentalist republic of Gilead. In the novel the majority of the population are suppressed by using a "Bible-based" religion as an excuse for the suppression. How does this work and why can the girls, the so called Handmaids, be considered the victims of society? Also, in what way does Gilead use biblical allusions? That is some of the questions this essay will give answers for.

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They are known by their Commanders first names, Of -(name of commander), this to underline their function as sexual objects without individuality.

Moreover, apart from being deprived their own names Handmaids are also deprived legal rights. They live at a Commander's house where the commander that they are assigned to, (for reproductive purposes), is their only hope for freedom. This because if the Handmaid gets pregnant after one of the monthly "impregnation Ceremonies", where the commander's wife is also present, she becomes a "wife" and is not sent to the Colonies and a sure death as an "Unwoman". (those who does not conceive a child and therefore not considered real women). During their stay in the Commanders household they are under constant surveillance from his wife and other female servants. Ordinary things like reading and writing as well as to close personal friendships are forbidden. These facts are enough to realize that it is far from a privilege to be taken to Gilead as a girl. So now to the question how they manage to brainwash the Handmaids to, if not to be happy with their situation then at least to accept it and in some cases believe that they are well taken care of.

It can be said that in Gilead they use a various number of ways, several related to religion using biblical allusions. The name Gilead itself is named after a place in the Old Testament which "projects the ideal image for an embattled state, run on fundamentalist religious and patriarchal principles". Other means used are titles. For example the soldiers of Gilead's army, so called Angels, fight in battalions with names like "Angels of Apocalypse" and Angels of light". Furthermore the Gardians (members of the Gileadean police force) have the official title of "Guardians of Faith", all these titles sound very...

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