Home » Gender » The Handmaids Tale Feminist Analysis Essay

The Handmaids Tale Feminist Analysis Essay

Margaret Atwood’s Novel thoroughly depicts feminist and government control issues. Atwood’s intent is to warn society about the dangers surrounding such issues in order to prevent a world like Gilead. Gilead is an anti-feminist society in which women have been oppressed for the sole reason of reproduction necessities and for the infertile women, they also have been deprived from any vocal expression or any textual knowledge in order to maintain power within the males and the regime; women are deprived from many other basic freedoms.

The women who are not able to conceive a child are forced to hose a caste either Wives, Marthas, and or Aunts which serve as servants or Aunts who condition handmaids to believe conceiving is crucial to Gilead. After a nuclear war has devastated Gilead, the new society’s goal is to preserve the only fertile women left, as the women of Gilead were permanently harmed by the chemicals. These women that are able to be impregnated have been reconditioned to believe is their only duty is to reproduce as many children as possible in order to continue the population of their society; these women are called Handmaids.

Women have been oppressed by this society and andmaids are forced to have sex with their Commanders, the highest male status, in order to conceive a child. The government of Gilead utilizes fear and punishment for any woman or man who violates the laws, for example, the Handmaids have two years to conceive a child, if not then they are sent to the Colonies which is perceived as a corrupt and horrendous society. All Women of Gilead are deprived from society and forced to have roles that will further benefit males.

Furthermore, Oppression and Anti-Feminist issues are present in this novel and implemented in the daily lives of these Handmaids and women in order to reveal the oppression owards women in today’s society. thoroughly delineates women’s oppression in society to further boost male statues and reveal regime’s oppression towards women. Throughout Atwood prominent novel reveals oppression through women in various ways. Women are denied such a voice in Gilead thus they are forced to silence their thoughts basic right of freedom of speech.

Gilead’s governments denies women such a voice in order to maintain authority, predominantly to maintain power within the males. Although all females have in some sort been cast based on their previous status and anatomy into Martha’s,Wives,Handmaids, nd Jezebels, all women are denied these basic freedoms. Hogsette claims, “From the midst of this political and social oppression, however, we receive a narrative account of Gilead’s dystopian future from the perspective of one woman, Offred, who somehow manages to record her experiences, reactions, feelings, and thoughts, even though the Republic of Gilead denies women such a voice” (Hogsette).

Ofglen who is replaced in a new home where her Commander lives, she recognizes the wife, Serena Joy, from her previous day’s, a very popular figure who once spoke about women and how they should remain home, but now her voice is forever silenced. The Narrator comments, “She doesn’t make speeches anymore. She has become speechless. She stays in her home, but it doesn’t seem to agree with her. How furious she must be now that she has been taken at her word” (Atwood 46).

Ofglen realizes the power of the new regime as she acknowledges how even the most prestige women in Gilead have been denied a voice, moreover, realizing that even Serena Joy has not yet accommodated to Gilead. Many of the females in the novel have felt as men, through such power, have challenged the right of speech, as Hogsette states, “As Atwood’s epilogue suggests, the political oice of women that breaks from its earlier silenced state can be appropriated by men, thus threatening women again with silence” (Hogsette).

For the purpose of preventing a world like the colonies which is perceived as uninhabitable and toxic world that is extremely dangerous and corrupt, the government of Gilead denies women such a voice. Ofglen claims, “The other Colonies are worse, though, the toxic dumps and the radiation spills. They figure you’ve got three years maximum, at those, before your nose falls off and your skin pulls away like rubber gloves. They don’t bother to feed you much, or give you rotective clothing or anything, it’s cheaper not to” (Atwood 248).

Exposing the outside world to the people of Gilead allows for the establishment of fear and further enforcement of the guidelines and rules of the regime. Thus, women are feared into believing that open expression is un women like and a violation of the perfect society they live in, however women are not the only ones in danger from the wrath of the government. Ehrenreich states, “It’s open season on Catholics, Quakers, former abortionists, and ‘gender traitors’ (male homosexuals), all of whom are likely to end up hung from hooks on the wall hat runs along the city of Gilead” (Ehrenreich).

Nevertheless, Language both written and spoken have played a major role in . Language is vital in representing the oppression of women in Gilead. Throughout Atwood’s novel many women experience the power the regime through the denial of language. In fact, many scholars like Hogsette have stated Offred’s standpoint in society through the power of the pen and further reveals the significance of language as writing has been denied to females. Hogsette reveals, “In this phallocentric society, the pen is power, and Offred has penis envy, that is, “Pen Is Envy.

She desires the ower of the pen(is) that is monopolized by men, and she wishes to reclaim her voice through language, through writing” (Hogsette). Such evidence yet further explains the male dominance in the regime; denying such privilege to women will facilitate the male supremacy in the government. The denial of language denies women a sense of their life, not only do they feel invincible but the Handmaid’s feel as if they are fictitiou.

Through language women are able to regain their voice and validate life, as Hogsette states, “Writing, or in her case speaking out, validates an individual’s existence; it proves the writer– peaker was, at some point, or still may be, alive” (Hogsette). explores the power of language as the protagonist relies on a message, left behind by another Handmaid, on inspiring her future freedom,” Nolite te bastardes carborundorum- ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’-playful faux Latin words that inspire the novel’s heroine to resist her enslavement” (Birzer).

Birzer reveals the how vital language can become to be as language can manipulate thoughts. The ability to resist the regime lies in language and the ability to acquire knowledge prohibited. Offred states, “It pleases me to know that her taboo essage made it through, to at least one person, washed itself up on the wall of my cupboard, was opened and read by me. Sometimes I repeat the words to myself. They give me a small joy” (Atwood 69). Offred resist the regime through a phrase that has inspired her to hope others like her will eventually read it.

Handmaids are reeducated in training centers by Aunts indeed are one of the castes women are placed into. In the reeducation centres they are forced to witness men reading a religious sayings but are denied the opportunity to object these beliefs. Atwood reveals the deprivation of language claiming, “In the Red Center, for example, the Aunts play a tape of a man reading the Beatitudes during the Handmaids’ lunch. Of one of the Beatitudes, Offred comments, “I knew they made that up, I knew it was wrong, and they left things out, too, but there was no way of checking” (Atwood 115).

Furthermore, Atwood presents language as mechanism for power. In Gilead, all females are forced into castes that will serve the leaders of Gilead. Through establishing specific roles, women lose the opportunity to create their own identities, they will not serve a purpose other than that given by the government, _ states, Women become nonpersons–individuals who lack the rights and opportunities that might enable them to counter openly society’s construction of them as Martha, Wife, and Handmaid– and their society strips them of any resources with which to create their own subjective reality” (Hogsette).

After a war devastated this society, a scarce amount of fertile women remained. This has become into a nation problem for those who live in Gilead, without women who can bear children, the population will seek to extant. Such evidence is presented through Neuman, “Its major national issue, sterility consequent n nuclear and chemical pollution, it addresses through sexual surrogacy, turning its few fertile women into ‘Handmaids’ to its highest-level Commanders and their wives… (Neuman). Thus, these women are valued exclusively for their reproduction capability. Scholar Neuman states, “The novel’s outwardly conformist and once independent Offred has seen her social value reduced to reproduction, and her personal freedom completely curtailed” (Neuman). With that said, oppression on Handmaids to conceive a child are revealed throughout the novel in various ways. Author Barbara Ehrenreich states, “But omen are in a particularly tight spot.

Some combination of plagues and toxic waste has decimated the human gene pool, so that women who may still have the potential to bear children have been pressed into service as full-time breeders, or ‘handmaids” (Ehrenreich). In order for Handmaids to procreate children they must have be trained, Aunts train these women, therefore the regime controls women through this conditioning centers. Hogsette enforces these ideals by stating, “Her Gileadean government maintains its power by means of surveillance, suppression of information, ‘re-education’ centres, nd totalitarian violence” (Hogsette).

Handmaids objectify the immense power the government of Gilead maintains as they are forced to leave their identity, including their names. As the Handmaids are places into a new assignment their name changes according to the Commander. By the alteration of names, women have lost a sense of their own identity, as Stillman claims, “Fertile women are rare ( men by patriarchal definition are not infertile), and Commanders, the rulers of the society, want children. If a Commander’s wife is unable to bear children, a fertile woman must be brought in to be impregnated by him.

These women are the Handmaids, trained in deference, self-abnegation, and service, prepared only for pregnancy, their status and purpose made evident by their uniforms and their names (formed by ‘Of; plus the first name of their current Commander)” (Stillman). The Handmaids of Gilead are denied a sense of themselves when they renounce their names, the names given to each Handmaid now represents their status as women; birth givers. Offred reveals the oppression of women by stating, “My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it’s forbidden.

I tell myself it doesn’t matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter” (Atwood 84). By the Handmaid’s revealing their true names with one another they are able to recuperate a sense of their own identity and resist the regime. Author Hogsette claims, ‘Within the Handmaid Sisterhood, however, the women share with each other their real names, thereby maintaining, as much as possible, their former identities. In that act of sharing, those women also preserve their own individual humanity, their personhood” (Hogsette).

Through establishing a relationship with other handmaids and revealing each others name, these women are able to maintain their past in the present. The totalitarian government of Gilead denies women the right to communicate with each other as communication could weaken the power of Gilead. Furthermore, women learn techniques that will allow for the to regain a sense of themselves, Offred states, “We learned to lip-read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other’s mouths. In this way we exchanged names from bed to bed… ” (Atwood 4).

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.