• 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. 19th Century short stories - womens rights

    "The Yellow Wallpaper" is driven by the narrator's enthusiasm to interpret the wallpaper and realise that it symbolizes something that affects her directly. The wallpaper develops its symbolism throughout the story. At first it seems merely unpleasant; it is ripped and an "unclean yellow."

  2. The Gothic Elements in the HandMaid's Tale.

    The Handmaid's Tale is similar yet quite different. Even though it is set in the future, their practice is quite primitive. The novel is about sharing fertile women. A fertile woman is passed from house to house and must have sex with the household's Commander.

  1. 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

  2. HM Essay

    Both of these foils illustrate the theme of individuality versus society since Janine is a clear example of society where as Moira and OfGlen represent the individuality with their courage to rebel. Throughout the novel, Offred informs the reader of her memories with Moira.

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

    such as the Gradgrind family are referred to by name giving them a prized sense of individuality. As a Marxist would point out, this is a clear indication of repression as equality is not constant throughout all classes. Likewise in Atwood's novel the commanders have a name of power; the term 'to command' suggests ultimate restrictive control over those below.

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

    someone living in a time "when men are different from one another" from this the reader is made aware of the current lack of personal identity Big Brother has imposed upon its subjects. Although Winston has his own name and has more freedom than Offred, both characters are oppressed as they no longer hold particular characteristics which make them unique.

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