• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Handmaid's Tale Epigraphs

Extracts from this document...


Epigraphs in The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel; and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I many also have children by her. - Genesis 30:1-3 * Cites the crux of scriptural love between Rachel and Jacob * Patriarchal Hebrew times = legitimate for men to have sex with slaves (to beget children) if wife was infertile * Jacob promised to work seven years for Rachel's hand in marriage, but instead tricked into marrying Leah (elder daughter) and she bears two children * Rachel is jealous, requests that Jacob bed her handmaid, Bilhah (also bears two sons) * Biblical event forms justification for 20th century Gilead's Handmaid system --> women who fail to conceive are devalued But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal... ...read more.


be termed for common good but may be against nature Three epigraphs are conjoined by 3 images: Produce, Food, Eating which connect with The Handmaid's Tale by Maragret Atwood Produce - Genesis 30 : Jacob asks Rachel if he is accused of denying her "the fruit of the womb" - Rachel is infertile, asks husband to consider her handmaid Bilhah - Custom of which wife embraces handmaid to symbolize the baby produced is legally the wife's property - "The Handmaid's Tale" extrapolates from this point, unlikely that puritanical religious rights would adopt this type of sexual practice - Atwood depicts that patriarchal traditions which depict women as means of soley reproduction is no different than modern customs of labelling women as sex objects - Selective use of quote from Old Testament illustrates how dangerous it is to take single quotes from the Bible without putting them in proper context --> misused for purpose of pushing particulate agenda - Handmaids were suppressed of civil rights and Bible is referred to in novel without proper citation Food/Eating - Jonathan Swift : Children are proposed as means of consumption to elimiate poverty - "Unbabies" sent to colonies due to undesired traits, ...read more.


Jacob makes it clear that Rachel is "withheld from fruit of the womb", where he degrades Rachel. This signifies the act of sending an "unwoman" to the Colonies, where she is forced to be dispatched to toxic clean-up crews if she does not produce in a given time. Eating children to reduce poverty occurs when there is an overpopulation of offspring, or that a family is in poverty. This practice is suggested by Jonathan Swift, where he supports cannibalism. This belief is the exact opposite of the rules in the Republic of Gilead, where babies were not common and infertile women had to turn to handmaids for reproduction. To have a baby meant a way out of oppression from other people and it meant to never be labelled an "unwoman", therefore not being sent to the Colonies. As seen by all the commanders and hierarchies in The Handmaid's Tale, the handmaids are controlled and kept from many things other than shopping for produce. They were not allowed to read or make eye contact with other males. The fact that the quote suggests that power can be secured by controlling access to scarce resources, by taking away privileges and things handmaids can connect to; they have absolute power. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Margaret Atwood section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Margaret Atwood essays

  1. The Handmaids tale by Atwood and Hard Times by Dickens - Both authors are ...

    individualism, similar to Atwood who, following a binary reading would highlight the difference between totalitarianism and liberty. This dehumanisation and therefore the repression of individuality is shown in both novels through an ISA; the choice of character names represents such a method.

  2. Explore the issues concerning women and feminism raised in The Handmaids Tale

    females are just too scared to attempt but to Gilead Moira is nothing more then a barren female with criminal issues. Atwood represents Moira as the other type of feminist who was a lesbian and who strongly thought that men were the enemy, like Offred's mother she was aware politically

  1. In What Ways Does Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, and Atwood's The Handmaids Tale explore ...

    As Margaret Atwood says "The fact is that any totalitarianism will always come in by saying it's going to give you a better thing than what you have" 3 This is exactly the case in The Handmaid's Tale as Gilead is claiming they have given the citizens of Gilead a better way of life.

  2. The Handmaid's Tale

    of a fertilisation receptacle, replacing the physical inability of the Wives to produce children. In this sense Atwood explores the division between the physical act of having sex, and the emotional experience of lovemaking. Gilead society practices only the former, with true emotion unable to exist within the strict hierarchal structure that has been created.

  1. HM Essay

    These are the simple thoughts and memories of a teenager who is proud of their individuality, which is why Moira is wearing such a unique color on her fingernails. As the novel goes on, Offred slowly starts to remember and notice things from her past she had not noticed before,

  2. The Handmaid tale essay

    red, violet; black satin, gold lam�, glittering silver; bikini underpants, see-through brassieres with pink-sating hearts sewon on to cover the nipples." (288) Which proves that women were exploited because of the way they dressed, the clothing proposed that the working women in pre-Gilead had sex appeal because of the way

  1. 19th Century short stories - womens rights

    From this repetition of "personally" we can assume that the narrator is very independent. This statement, "What is one to do?" implies a lack of self-confidence and a feeling of inferiority. She speaks as though her opinions do not count in any way.

  2. Compare and contrast their representation of the different social and cultural forces which contribute ...

    'Eyes of the Lord'; this subtle insertion of biblical references helps to create the overall feeling of containment; a sharp contrast with the lack of intellectual and educational language which is deliberately removed. In both novels education is a restrictive force however, in 'Hard Times' education takes on a different form of repression.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work