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

Women in the Handmaid's Tale: Objectification and Value in Reproductive Qualities.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Women in the Handmaid's Tale: Objectification and Value in Reproductive Qualities Sarah Bell Eng. 110.6 (19) J. Stothers Feb. 26/2004 Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale is a work of speculative fiction. The Republic of Gilead is a dystopic society, especially for the women. Women in the novel are stripped of their freedom, while men are entitled to a portion of their freedom. This novel is one that illustrates inequality towards women. A focus for the Republic of Gilead is to increase the declining birth rate. Within the phallocentric society of the Republic of Gilead, re-population results in women being objectified and valued for their reproductive qualities. The division of women in the Republic of Gilead is based on their reproductive qualities and status. Anatomy is destiny in the society of the Republic of Gilead. Wives are classified as elite and are typically infertile. These infertile women usually have gardens to compensate for their lack of child bearing qualities: "many of the wives have such gardens, it's something for them to order and maintain and care for" (p. ...read more.

Middle

30). Widows are typically seen in black, the color of mourning. Handmaids wear red which is representative of blood, menses, and birth: "red: the color of blood, which defines us" (p. 9). Unwomen wear gray, which is the color of ashes. Women that work at Jezebel's as prostitutes are not restricted to uniforms like the rest of the women in the Republic of Gilead. They wear outdated costumes from the time before that are highly eroticized. For women in the Republic of Gilead, there is no freedom of choice in attire. Women in the Republic of Gilead are objectified, viewed as property, controlled and lack freedom. The mobility of women throughout society is strictly controlled: "a rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze" (p. 206). Women are viewed as the property of men, especially the Handmaids of the Commanders. Handmaid's names are not their own but are names associated with ownership of a Commander. The name Offred refers to of Fred, therefore Offred is the property of her 3 Commander Fred. ...read more.

Conclusion

91). Women in the novel are valued as bodies, and are sometimes reduced to parts of bodies. For Handmaids, pregnancy is viewed as their only salvation. Strong feelings of hope and failure are common for Handmaids. Janine's pregnancy is a symbol of hope for the Handmaids: "she's a magic presence to us, an object of envy and desire, we covet her. She's a flag on a hilltop, showing us what can still be done: we too can be saved" (p. 33). Offred feels failure every month with menstration: "each month I watch for blood, fearfully, for when it comes it means failure" (p. 91). When a Handmaid successfully bears a child, she is rewarded: "she'll never be sent to the Colonies, she'll never be declared Unwoman. That is her reward" (p. 159). Handmaids see pregnancy as their salvation because they will ultimately be rewarded. The result of re-population in the Republic of Gilead is the objectification and value of reproductive qualities for women. Women in the Republic of Gilead live in a male dominated society, which leads to female inequality. The greatest source of inequality surfaces from the Republic of Gilead trying to increase the birth rate. The society of the Republic of Gilead is dystopic. ...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 ...

    and hands are not essential,' for the purpose of a Handmaid it is only the womb that is important. When The Republic of Gilead took over many methods of control were created. The government took control of what was broadcast on the news to boost morale to keep spirits high.

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

    In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it." Having this freedom from in Gilead has made women in this society more secure than ever; the handmaids are practically worshipped due to their ability to have children plus all acts

  1. The Handmaid's Tale

    One example is her reaction to her name, stating that she will "keep the knowledge of [her] name like something hidden, some treasure [she'll] come back to dig up" -p 94. By clinging to her previous name, she is able to maintain a part of her previous identity.

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

    or outrage or inquisitiveness, such as you might see on a startled child' with blue eyes that shut you out and a once 'cute nose but was now to small for her face, she is insulting her mistress's looks; this shows that she still has some power, even if it is only in her own mind.

  1. What analysis of the female role does Margaret Atwood offer in ' The Handmaid's ...

    be whistled at, and will not have to be scared of anything when walking alone. However, what is happening to them in this new society, is, in reality, much worse. The novel is a shocking look at the future. With an original publication date of 1985, it may seem a

  2. Offred's Narrative - What is the purpose and function of the 'Historical Notes' and ...

    He talks about how Gilead's practices were based on real practices, this I think could come across as disturbing and unsettling to the readers, which again I think Atwood intended. How could someone who just before said we are here to understand but find these ways genius?

  1. Margaret Atwood - The Handmaids Tale - Jezebel's

    Women are prohibited from speaking or using language in anyway or form. This enables women not to become rebellious of the system, as you can only become rebellious with the power of language. The handmaids in Gilead are also deprived of their identity, as they are the possessions of the commanders, and so are named after they commanders e.g.

  2. The Handmaid's Tale Essay

    Throughout the novel there have been many references to women being compared to animals "Like chicken's strung up by the necks in a meat shop" This quote is from chapter forty-three in which Offred witnesses some women being hung for crimes against Gilead.

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