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The Handmaid's Tale

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mandi pearson

on 3 April 2013

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Transcript of The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood Feminism Atwood was born in the 1940's and wrote Handmaid's Tale in the 1970's during the feminist movement.

Was influenced by feminist writers like Betty Frieden

Drew ideas for the book from groups such as Sisterhood is Powerful, movements like the Equal Pay Act and issues such as those on abortion and rape. Politics Atwood is Canadian and has negative views of the American government

She claims to have based the Republic of Gilead on American politics "But this is wrong, nobody dies from lack of sex. It's lack of love we die from. There's nobody here i can love, all the people i could love are dead or elsewhere." Feminism The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. What Happens in Gilead... 1) All women's credit cards stop working. Their money is given to their husbands/fathers

2) Women are fired from their jobs and therefor forced to rely upon their males for support.

3) "Unwomen" are sent to the Colonies to labor and die.

4) The class system Wives - blue peace, honor, leadership, welcoming Marthas - green growth, creation, work, nature, loyalty Daughters - white purity, virginity Handmaids - red blood, birth, womb, life Econwives - stripes multi purpose How It Is Used Identity and freedom taken from the women by placing them in a cast system.

Knowledge is also taken in the form of language.

Worth is granted to women for there ability to reproduce, therefore connecting them to their sexual uses and little else. Offred identified herself with her body, but even this was taken from her and concidered a "national resource." This reduces her to property of the state, and not of herself.

The Handmaid's, which are refereed to as "two legged wombs" are identified as fertile by a tattoo on their ankles. Each caste has its own specific limitations and oppressions . "It is forbidden to women to read or write, as it is to engage in unauthorized sexual activities" which developed the oppression of women in the piece.

When the commander allows Offred to read magnetizes and play scrabble, it is an example of his offer of freedom to her.

Language is power. the "ideology of the natural" is a substitute for the lack of real nature and that is "primarily used to define gender roles."

When a handmaid is proven infertile, she is sent to her death in the colonies. This is proof of the value of fertility. A handmaid can not save herself any other way, proving her lack of worth in any other area. What It Alludes To Atwood uses the extreme measures taken against women in her novel to make a stand against the prejudices felt by women of her time and to exaggerate the points of feminist movement leaders. Religion "My rule while writing the Handmaid's Tale was to not put anything into it that human beings haven't actually done."

- Margaret Atwood The Bible The bible is referenced continually throughout the novel. The very basis of the handmaid system is derived from the christian bible. It is also openly quoted from during the ceremony. "And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no
children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto
Jacob, 'Give me children, or I shall die!' And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel; and he said, 'Am I in the place of God, who hath withheld from you the fruit of the womb?'
Then she said, 'Behold my maid Bilhah, go in to her; that she shall bear upon my knees, and even I
may have children through her.'" "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenchis the earth" "Blessed be the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed be the meek. Blessed are the silent." "And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband." "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro thoughout the whole eath, to know himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him." Politics The government is organized around religious concepts and ideas. Such as the "Angles of Truth", all seeing "Eyes" and the slogan of "Faith" which is used to represent government. Ultimately "it was religious
radicals in Gilead who hijacked the revolution away from a more broad-based political opposition." This proves that the people were in love with religion despite the governments uses of it. The beliefs they came into the new age with stayed with them, making this faith the powerful inner strength of any rebellion but also a powerful tool to be used in
oppression of the people. Power Religion is used by the government as a means of control. Not only is the government organized as a Theocracy but it presents faith as justification for the social changes and offers it as an outlet for the emotions that are otherwise suppressed. "Souls and Scrolls" is a
machine run store where good pious citizens order prayers.
These prayers are then printed
by the machines and read aloud
by an electronic voice before the
paper is recycled and used to
print more prayers. Historical http://people.howstuffworks.com/feminism4.htm




https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&tab=ww Eric, Domville. "The Handmaid's Detail: Notes on the Novel and the Oprap." Project MUSE 75(2006): 869-882. Web. 8 mar. 2013

Kingston, Paul. "The Joyless republic of Gilead." University of Toronto Quarterly 75.3 (2006): 834-835. Project MUSE. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Rule, Lauren A. "Not Fading into Another Landscape: Specters of American Empire." Project MUSE 54.4 (2008): 627-653. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Neuman, S. C. "Just a Backlash.' Margaret Atwood, Feminism, and the Handmaid's Tale." Project MUSE 75.3 (2006): Web. 8. Mar. 2013. The Handmaid's Tale way highly influenced by the political movements of the day as well that those from the past. Atwood drew from the downfalls of the American government when designing the distopian society in her novel. Feminism A large part of Atwood's work was influenced by the feminist movement that was developing in the 1970's. Ollfred, is "a fictional product of 1970's feminism" and is used to represent the oppressions, segregation and public issues being discussed by political leaders.
Atwood also looks farther back in history, alluding to the beginnings of American government and the strictness of the separation of the sexes. This is shown in the Handmaid's Tale when women are forced to be financially depended on men, wear overly conservative clothing (dresses) and be submissive to their male masters. Politics The eyes (or spies) that patrol fictional Gilead are harkening back to high distrust of government that was stirred up at the time by the Watergate scandal in 1972 and the wide spread postal and rail road strikes taking place across the country. Atwood incorporated a sense of oppression from the government and fear from the people to sybolize the political atmosphere.

In pre-Gilead society, women were celebrated sex objects and things like "porno marts" and prostitution super markets were a common thing. After Gilead took over, there was a mass burning of revealing clothing and pornographic magazines. This was included in the fiction to represent the increased provocativeness of women in the 70's and the sexual involvement of America. Atwood uses both the fictional "time before" and the supposed improvements of the new republic to make her point. C O N C L U S I O N Atwood wrote the Handmaid's Tale with the purpose of proclaiming her political, religious and moral views. These views were highly influenced by the issues of the time, those being women's rights, government control and conspiracy, and the right of rebellion. As a canadian, Atwood watched the American government with displeasure. She put all the flaws she found with the United States into her novel as she did her feminist opinions. Though Atwood claimed not to be a feminist, she did support many feminist views and desired equality of the sexes. In the Handmaid's Tale, Atwood exaggerated her feeling of oppression and inserted biblical stories. As an agnostic, Atwood was against Christianity, which also played a part in her development of the Handmaid's Tale. To her, an anti-feminism, theocratic, highly controlling and secretive government represented the ultimate distopia. She created this distopia as a warning to the world: Be careful, because you could end up like this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid's_Tale


http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3472.Margaret_Atwood “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” “War is what happens when language fails.”
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