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A Comparison of "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood and "Anthem" by Ayn Rand

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A Comparison of "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood and "Anthem" by Ayn Rand The two novels, 'The Handmaid's Tale' and 'Anthem', are both haunting, first person tales of personal hardship in a closed and controlled society. In this essay I will point out many important similarities and differences between the two books, mainly the setting and the similarities between the two societies in which the stories take place, as well as more important differences between the main characters. To start, I would like to compare the settings of the two books. In 'Anthem' the story takes place sometime in the future after some catastrophic event. Apparently society as we know it was destroyed and the leaders that were left decided that the problem was the individual that all men are equal in all things and that anything that is created by one person is evil. This train of thought is carried to such and extreme that the very word "I" is removed from their vocabulary. ...read more.


These women are referred too as "handmaids." Next, I would like to discuss the main characters, in 'The Handmaid's Tale' and in 'Anthem'. In both books the main characters are basically nameless people, in 'The Handmaid's Tale' we never learn the name of the main character, because she always refers to herself as "I" and the other characters in the book refer to her with a generic title for her position as a handmaid. In 'Anthem' the main character does not have the word I in his vocabulary so he either refers to himself as Equality-1329, or as "we." As far as physical appearance goes, in 'Anthem' the main character is a man who seems to be in good heath since he has a job as a street sweeper and he is able to perform his duties well. Later in the book he finds a mirror, and he describes himself as 'beautiful.' ...read more.


The main character in 'The Handmaid's Tale' is less of a pro-active person she knows that her society is flawed, and she tells the reader that she does not like her life yet she does nothing about it. The high ranking general that she is "handmaid" for takes her into a position of confidence, and rather than use her position to affect positive change she squanders it on cheap pleasures such as asking for a magazine to read, and playing bored games. In ending I would like to say that although both characters live in similar controlling societies, I like the one in Anthem the best because he was pro-active and he did something about his surroundings rather than just accept what was and go on. I am not sure which book I enjoyed the most though, perhaps The Handmaid's tale as it has a more interesting storyline and easier to relate to. By Rebecca Cheetham ...read more.

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