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In what ways can The Handmaids Tale be considered a feminist novel?

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Introduction

Handmaids Tale In what ways can The Handmaids Tale be considered a feminist novel? The Handmaids Tale is narrated by an oppressed woman, so it is to be expected that feminism becomes a recurring theme. Women have no rights or money unless they have a valid marriage to a man. They are given few options and if they are fertile they can become sex slaves and seen as a womb on legs to Commanders or choose to go to the colonies. Infertile women or unwomen are seen as having no use so they automatically go to the colonies where they will die from disease or radiation. Their use and status is totally dependent on their relationships with men and ability to have children. Women are used by men and treated as far inferior, in Gilead women are the men's property. The handmaids especially and they are given their names in the household reflect this such as Offred and OfFred. They can be disposed of at will, even the Commanders Wives have little real importance and are given menial tasks such as ordering prayers at Soul Scrolls and knitting the Guardians scarves. ...read more.

Middle

Another interpretation of the novel is that it is a reaction against any idea that the womans place is in the home, that her sole use is one of reproduction. It demonstrates where these views could lead if encouraged or entertained. It gives the idea that men would act that way if given the power, that they would like to be in control and superior. That although men outwardly accept and respect women, inwardly they do not see them as equals I sense in him (the Commander) none of the animosity I used to sense in men, even in Luke sometimes. He's not saying bitch in his head. This quote shows that the Commander doesn't feel resentment against her because he's not expected to treat her like an equal. He is not threatened by her as men perhaps would be in our society. In fact it indicates that he is amused by her will and spirit, he doesn't take her seriously. In the novel men control the society outwardly, but the women stay together and support each other. ...read more.

Conclusion

She loves men; she strives for equality as far as possible between the sexes. We see how extreme feminism can be as ridiculous as the notion of female oppression and degradation. Women suffer in Gilead but men too, though not to such an extreme. Their plight is not concentrated on so much because the main character is a woman, and their problems are not as diverse as women are. But men are not ignored by Atwood as much as women are ignored through out the book and at the end, nearly two hundred years later, by Professor James Darcy Pieixoto. The Handmaids tale highlights the dangers of all extreme views, they are so extreme that they overlap. Offred represents a responsible and sensible stand point, her only request that of equality and respect, to be seen as a valid person. Feminism is hard to define and her mothers hopes for the redundancy of men and Offreds wishes to be equal can both be seen as feminist. I think The handmaids Tale is one of common sense, irrespective of what the view point may be called. ...read more.

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