Essay Example on The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel about a Woman

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The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel about a woman who is forced to live in a changed society run by a totalitarian regime Margaret Atwood reveals the story of Offred a handmaid who is forced to adapt to a new society in which she is oppressed and obligated to live a life she does not desire The Republic of Gilead the land in which the novel takes place is what used to be the United States Throughout the whole novel the author reminds the reader about the implications of a society where women's rights are reversed Oppression is present during the entire novel however there is one social group that is highlighted the most and these are the Handmaids The Handmaids are a group of women in Gilead that serve society by providing children Not only are they the most oppressed in the regime but also possibly the most important Atwood uses symbolism in the clothing to represent each social group and how they are oppressed in different ways In the case of the handmaids they are forced to dress in a uniform with the colour red and in several occasions Offred shares her views on how the freedom to dress as she pleases had been robbed from her The skirt is ankle length full gathered to a flat yoke that extends over the breasts the sleeves are full The white wings too are prescribed issue they are to keep us from seeing but also from being seen I never looked good in red it's not my colour Atwood 2 In this quote Offred complains about the clothing she must wear and the audience is shown how the Handmaids are controlled and represented with a colour Their clothing covers their whole body only allowing their face to be revealed leading their physical identity to be hidden 



As mentioned in the quote their head is covered with white wigs which prevent them from seeing The colour red symbolizes menstruation blood which is a sign of fertility and therefore allows their physical appearance to associate with fertility The clothing does not only represent their role in society which is to provide their commanders with children it also makes them all look the same A handmaid s body is a source of regulations and control including their clothing which is a sign of oppression that can be seen physically As Offred is the narrator her internal thoughts often allow the audience to gain an insight of the Handmaid's role in society The structure of social groups In the Republic of Gilead is based on the importance and purpose of each individual belonging to them In the case of Handmaids it can be considered that they belong to a middle class as they are provided with a quality of life that is suitable for them to conceive a child The novel often mentions social groups lower to a handmaid such as Marthas Econowives and Unwomen There are other women with baskets some in red some in the dull green of the Marthas some in the striped dresses red blue and green and cheap and skimpy that mark the women of the poorer men Econowives they re called These women are not divided into functions They have to do everything if they can Atwood 5 



As the narrator does not interact with either Econowives or Unwomen little is portrayed to the audience about their oppression yet if oppression is present in all social classes the audience is able to use imagination to understand the life of those who belong to lower classes than a handmaid's Equality is no longer present with the new government of Gilead and Offred is forced to adapt to a world where she is told what and who she is My name isn't Offred I have another name which nobody uses now because it's forbidden I tell myself it doesn't matter your name is like your telephone number useful only to others but what I tell myself is wrong it does matter Atwood 14 In this quote the narrator reminds herself what her true name that Offred is not her real name yet she reminds herself that a name is irrelevant as it not part of your identity Overall the main reason as to why the Handmaids are presented a particular way in The Handmaid's Tale is due to their purpose which is to provide children The story takes place in a time where childbirth rate has diminished therefore one of the primary purposes of the government is to ensure human survival However the government chooses an inhumane way to solve the problem Although oppression is viewed in every social group it is more present for women than for men In the Republic of Gilead a woman's role is to serve and take orders by laws that have been created by men The novel gives the audience an insight of a world where the roles and identities of women are created for them and through Offred's thoughts and experiences one is able to understand severe oppression of a government Atwood's novel leads the audience to question today's society Although oppression is not present as severely as in The Handmaids Tale it is a reality Although we live in a society where equality is a right that is fought for control is still present in many ways Society believes in its government and laws however it is important that we are aware as to how much control we are willing to accept Through the use of literature Antwoord makes the audience aware of the consequences that can occur when a solution to a problem is dealt with in an extreme way such as in the Republic of Gilead


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