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The Handmaid's Tale - What do you find interesting about the way that Atwood presents women in the novel? Focus on two characters in your answer.

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Introduction

The Handmaid's Tale What do you find interesting about the way that Atwood presents women in novel? Focus on two characters in your answer. The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel about a handmaid's transcripts account of her third posting in the early 20th Century of the Republic of Gilead; formerly known as the United States of America. The Republic is a patriarchal regime founded on fundamental Christian response to the declining of Caucasian birth rates. The government rules through force and oppression and also by distorting Biblical teachings as means of justifying inhuman state practices. Women are classed according to their marital statues, age and reproductive systems, while men are categorised according to age and membership as Commander in the Faith. Older single women, homosexual men and barren handmaids are sent to the Colonies to clean after warfare and toxic spills which will eventually cause their premature death. A Handmaid serves as a surrogate mother for infertile wives of Commanders. The Handmaid's Tale shares many striking resemblances with George Orwell's Nineteen Eight-Four; both novels tell of a near-future society governed by elite and characterised by distorted language. ...read more.

Middle

the women in the society at the time the novel was set involved in creating the Gilead regime; feminists takes part in activities such as campaigning against pornographic materials and disrupting beauty contests because they believe that they are degrading to women, Atwood is saying that by protesting against such, they are agreeing that censorship should be brought in and that women should be 'protected' from such material; at the heart of the Gilead regime is the 'protection women'. Margaret Atwood is challenging militant feminists to decide at what cost are they ready to pay in order create the matriarchal society they are campaigning for. Also Atwood is warning the readers that the notion of the need 'protect women' can be dangerous; it could slip from a demand for more freedom to a kind of neo-Victorianism, after all it was the need to 'protect women' that justified all manners of women subordination in the 19th Century including confining women to the kitchen and barring them from voting. Before writing this novel, Atwood collected newspaper clippings and reporting events from the feminist movement, religious right-wing groups and various cultural practices around the world so, this tangled debate could also be referring to the views contemporary Islamic women who argues that the veil and the all-enveloping clothing is aimed at dealing with sexual harassment and sexual objectification. ...read more.

Conclusion

Moira's reluctance to conform to rules of Gilead is crucial to her mental stability and her survival. Margaret Atwood contrast Moira's reluctance to subscribe to the ideologies of Gilead with Janine, who deeply believes and accepts the Gilead regime. Janine is both a victim of freedom and oppression. In the novel, we told that as a handmaid, she was left to wound her own emotional scares when her baby was declared 'unborn' and destroyed because it was deformed and also that before the Gilead regime she was gang-raped something she is made to believe by the Aunts that it is her fault "her fault, her fault, we chant in unison". There are great parallels between these events; in each case, she is a powerless individual, victimised as a women and her baby is destroyed. Janine's fragility reinforces Moira's inner strength. Janine's drift into madness in chapter 43 serves as Atwood's way of telling the readers that people can not be forced into believing in something imposed on them and that true converts of the Gilead regime are eventually into driven insane by the system's inhumane practices. Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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