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The Handmaids Tale illustrates that dictatorship can be established by creating a state of fear once language controls are instituted. As a tradition to dystopian novels, Atwood has drawn much attention

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Introduction

Discuss Atwood's attention to words and names. Why does the novel draw so much attention to the meaning of words and the significance of names, and what statement does the novelist seem to be making via this attention? The Handmaids Tale illustrates that dictatorship can be established by creating a state of fear once language controls are instituted. As a tradition to dystopian novels, Atwood has drawn much attention to the meaning of words and the significance of names, as well as the prohibition for women to read or write, in order to portray Gilead as a successful totalitarian state. Atwood is trying to make the point that in a dystopian world, language can be the power. The meaning of names is a central focus of the novel, because names define people. Their worth and functions are summarized by the names. To some extent, the names also discourage originality. This occurs especially to the Handmaids, whose names all begin with the prefix "Of", plus their commanders names, forming names such as Offred, Ofglen, and Ofwarren. This act taken by the Gileadian state totally objectifies the Handmaids. ...read more.

Middle

The point the Atwood is trying to make here is that language is taken from the outcast Gileadians and the outcast Gileadians are taken away from language. The Novel significantly emphasizes on the manipulation of language in general because it is an important approach to control the thoughts of people. Many words have been heavily distorted from their original meanings by the Gileadian government, in order to support their political ideology. A classic example from the novel would be "The Ceremony". It is simply an abuse of the term to create certain false religious impressions in people's minds, where in reality The Ceremony should be depicted as the act of the commanders having s*x with the Handmaids. Interestingly, the term "Handmaid" itself sounds to be a pleasant Biblical word, and yet, it is used to disguise the fact that the Handmaids are actually treated as reproductive slaves. The point that Atwood is raising here is that by fusing religion into new language would often allow the state to gain more emotional support from the society. Since Gilead is a theocracy, the religious terminology and Biblical allusion of words and phrases plays an extremely vital role in the Gileadian language because by incorporating religion with the political theocracy could almost guarantee the government with infinite power. ...read more.

Conclusion

In this respect, Atwood is suggesting that in a totalitarian society such as Gilead, language is to be considered as a dangerous weapon owned by the state. Through her cautionary novel, Atwood has tried to warn the readers that there would be a genuine consequence if language is exploited. What Atwood is trying to promote to the readers is that words aren't just words. Language is incredibly powerful for getting people to not look at the reality of things, or for making things to be more emotional than they need to be. Renaming can certainly be used to create a state of fear through distinctive classification. More importantly, it can significantly dehumanize people and take away their identities. Other than that, religious influences also allow the government to control the society psychologically. After all, language is an extremely important device in The Handmaids Tale. A good understanding of how language functions in the novel allows us to become aware of how a totalitarian regime can maintain its power through the control of language. ?? ?? ?? ?? International School of Phnom Penh 1222 Candidate name: LAI Chun Yu Page 2 of Candidate number: English International School of Phnom Penh 1222 Candidate name: LAI Chun Yu Page 1 of Candidate number: English ...read more.

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