Tristram Kenton Some books haunt the reader. Others haunt the writer. It has sold millions of copies worldwide and has appeared in a bewildering number of translations and editions. It has been expelled from high schools, and has inspired odd website blogs discussing its descriptions of the repression of women as if they were recipes.
A Canadian and feminist writer, Margaret Atwood is internationally acclaimed as an accomplished novelist, poet, short story writer, and literary commentator.
Presented as the eyewitness recollections of its entrapped heroine, the novel vividly displays the dehumanizing effects of ideological rhetoric, biological reductionism, and linguistic manipulation.
The proliferation of toxic pollution and sexually transmitted diseases in the near future has caused widespread sterility and a decline of Caucasian births.
The new ruling male theocracy, situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is founded on fundamentalist biblical principles and a social hierarchy designed to promote controlled procreation. The strict moral code of the regime, a reaction against the amorality and permissiveness of the former United States, is enforced by the constant surveillance of Eyes secret agentsAngels soldiersand Guardians police.
Though women in Gilead are prized for their ability to reproduce, they are forbidden to work, own property, or read. A select number of women who are fertile and unmarried are recruited as Handmaids; they wear red habits with white hoods and are assigned to a Commander, a high-ranking government official, and his post-menopausal Wife.
The sole function of the Handmaid is to produce children, a task that requires her to engage in ritualized, monthly copulation with the Commander in the presence of his Wife. Beneath the Handmaids in the caste system are Econowives, the spouses of lower class men who wear striped dresses.
The remainder of infertile and unmarried women are divided into the following: Marthas, a servant class designated by drab green dresses; Aunts, a cattleprod-wielding corps entrusted with the indoctrination and discipline of the Handmaids; and Unwomen, a group comprised of resistant women who are sent to the embattled Colonies to clean up toxic waste.
During paired shopping excursions with Ofglen, another Handmaid, Offred learns of the underground movement called Mayday, of which Ofglen is a part. Though initially passive and hopeless, Offred is gradually emboldened by her brief exchanges with Ofglen.
Offred also becomes involved in an illicit relationship with Commander Fred, who summons her to his study during the evenings to play Scrabble—a illegal activity since women are condemned to illiteracy.
There Offred reencounters her friend Moira, a lesbian and rebellious former Handmaid-in-training whose failed escape from the Rachael and Leah Center has landed her a role as a prostitute at the club.
While Offred is permitted to satisfy her sexual longings with Nick, Serena stands to benefit from the prestige of having a birth in her home, a ceremonious event in itself attended by the Wives and Handmaids. Offred is whisked away either to safety with the underground resistance, perhaps arranged by Nick, or to certain death at the hands of the Eyes.
As in most dystopian fiction, the future setting merely affords the author an opportunity to illustrate the magnified ill effects of familiar contemporary problems left unchecked. Biblical names and allusions permeate the text and the literal interpretation of Genesis The omnipresence of Eyes, Angels, Guardians, and Aunts—all agents of state sponsored repression—evoke an atmosphere of constant surveillance and social control in which biblical mandate, fascist tactics, and technology are all merged.
Atwood frequently employs satire as a method of social critique: Though men also suffer under the tyrannical Gileadean order, Atwood focuses on the persecution of women and their various efforts to resist male domination, including flight Moiradissent Ofglensuicide Janineacceptance Serenaand storytelling Offred.
The use of language as a mode of both manipulation and liberating affirmation is a dominant motif in the novel. For example, the recurring images of eyes, eggs, ovals, and mirrors in the text contrast positive feminine symbols of fertility, continuity, and wholeness with negative aspects of surveillance, control, and imprisonment.
Likewise, the blood-red gowns of the Handmaids conjure positive associations with birth and life as well as pejorative links with suffering, shame, and female bondage to reproductive cycles.
Throughout her narrative, Offred relies upon linguistic invention as an internal voice of self-expression, subjectivity, and, ultimately, survival, as her tapes suggest that women may transcend oppression by documenting and sharing their experiences.
Clarke Award, and the Commonwealth Literature Prize, and was also adapted into a film in It warns us of the imperceptible technology of power, of the subtle domination of women by men, and of our unconscious imprisoning of each other and ourselves by ourselves.A novel by Margaret Atwood, set 20 Minutes into the Future.
A portrait of a Dystopia. The setting is the new Republic of Gilead, a country which is at war, where the roles of society are firmly defined, and women have no rights — especially not handmaids. Our protagonist is a woman who has. Last year, The Handmaid's Tale quietly became one of the most talked about television series in some time.
It cleaned up at the Emmy's, taking out the coveted Outstanding Drama Series.
> I want to emphasize how proud I am of (some parts of) America right now. “Pride in yourself is a vein emotion,” Tom said sanguinely. With the recent election, a surge in activism, and the ensuing criticism of this activism, the topic of white feminism has come to the forefront of liberal politics.
Following Hulu’s release of a TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, the root of my discomfort finally hit me — The Handmaid’s Tale is a White Feminist dystopia, specifically.
The Handmaid's Tale - In Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaids Tale’, we hear a transcribed account of one womans posting ‘Offred’ in the Republic of Gilead. The Handmaid's Tale has often been called a "feminist dystopia", but that term is not strictly accurate.
In a feminist dystopia pure and simple, all of the men would have greater rights than all of the women.