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

In what ways is misogynism portrayed in Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale"

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

In what ways is misogynism portrayed in Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" In "The Handmaid's Tale" written by Margaret Atwood, Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America. Dangerously low reproduction rates mean Handmaids are assigned to bear children for elite couples that have trouble conceiving. Offred's name says that she, like all Handmaids, is considered state property. Handmaids' names simply reflect which Commander owns them. "Of Fred," This is very misogynistic as it shows that a handmaid, has lost her identity and her name and therefore every time the women hear their 'handmaid' names, they are reminded that they are no more than property. Having made it illegal for women to hold jobs, Gilead creates a system of titles. Whereas men are defined by their military rank, women are defined solely by their gender roles as Wives, Handmaids, or Marthas. Stripping them of permanent individual names strips them of their individuality, or tries to. ...read more.

Middle

Gilead seeks to deprive women of their individuality in order to make them trained carriers of the next generation. The central object is her womb, which is the only part of a woman that matters in Gilead. Offred's musings show that she has internalised Gilead's attitude toward women, which treats them not as individuals but as objects important only for the children that they can bear. Women's wombs are a "national resource," the state insists, using language that dehumanises women and reduces them to, as Offred puts it, "a cloud, congealed around a central object, which is hard and more real than I am." This idea that only the womb matters gets reinforced when Offred remembers Aunt Lydia's saying... "For our purposes your feet and hands are not essential" Aunt Lydia implies that only the wombs matter, and other body parts can safely be flayed and beaten. Pain and emotion do not matter; only childbearing does. When Janine tells the story of her gang-rape at the age of fourteen, the group, at Aunt Lydia's prompting, chants that the rape was Janine's fault, that she led them on, that God allowed the rape to happen in order to teach Janine a lesson. ...read more.

Conclusion

"It's an event, a small defiance of rule" When Offred attracts the Guardians, she feels this ability to inspire sexual attraction is the only power she retains. Every other privilege is stripped away, down to the very act of reading, which is forbidden. Women are not even allowed to read store signs. By controlling women's minds, by not allowing them to read the authorities more easily control women's bodies. The patriarchs of Gilead want to control women's bodies, their sex lives, and their reproductive rights. The bodies of slain abortionists on the Wall hammer home the point: feminists believe that women must have abortion rights in order to control their own bodies, and in Gilead, giving women control of their bodies is a horrifying crime Overall, The Republic of Gilead has an extremely harsh and terrifying misogynistic view of women. They see them only as fertile objects whose only use in the world is to bear children. They incorporate their views into society in the form of Handmaids whose only job is to conceive children to prevent dangerously low birth rates from occurring. Alex Seamark Page 1 03/05/2007 ...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 Handmaid's Tale - What are the main methods of control in the Gileadean ...

    In the Red centre propaganda is used as a brainwashing technique. Aunt Lydia showed the Handmaids 'old porno films,' which showed 'women hanging upside down, naked with their legs apart,' this was to illustrate 'what they thought of women

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

    So the natural birth reminds women of their original sins of the time before and this again shows the patriarchal control over the women in this society. Using a handmaid as the main narrator of the novel I s a useful and helpful feminist tool because if the novel centred

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

    This is evident when Winston enters Mr Charringtons shop; he comprehends that it was a "suicidal impulse" that led him to enter the shop, because if he was caught he would most definitely be denounced to the thought police. Oppression also appears in the form of dress.

  2. Was The Handmaid's Tale written from a feminist or anti-feminist perspective?

    Many readers have questioned the novel's character as a feminist critique. The Handmaid's tale delivers an interpretation of what looks more like traditional femininity rather than feminism itself. Atwood's main character, Offred, has fantasies of being free. However Offred's vision of freedom is not particularly a feminist one.

  1. The Handmaid's Tale

    the people who watch them: "Any news, now, is better than none...They show us only victories, never defeats. Who wants bad news?...What [the announcer is] telling us...is for our own good...He tells us what we long to believe Metonyms and rhyme emphasising the Gilead ideologies are integrated into everyday life

  2. 19th Century short stories - womens rights

    lives, and that she herself is the one in need of rescue. The horror of this story is that the narrator must lose herself to understand herself. She has untangled the pattern of her life, but she has torn herself apart by getting free of it.

  1. "The Handmaids Tale" By Margaret Atwood, "The importance of being Ernest" by Oscar Wilde ...

    cooks and cleaners, seen as unclean but necessary, which makes her feel as if she is merely being tolerated, even by the lower members of the household including the cook and the housekeeper, but she still retains some power as everyone is relying on her to bear a child by

  2. In 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and 'The Remains of the Day' by ...

    service with his long remembered memories viewed against a backdrop of war and the rise of Fascism. "THT" Offred is a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America.

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