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The Handmaid's Tale

Gender Roles
by

Sara Baig

on 16 October 2012

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Transcript of The Handmaid's Tale

"GENDER ROLES" THE
HANDMAID'S
TALE Intro: Divisions of Jobs Divisions of Jobs
Among Women Treatment Of Women by Men Name significance Conclusion Feminist Anti Feminist Ofwarren Sara, Brooke, Cassie & Clayton "…there are many women willing to serve as Aunts, either because of a genuine belief in what they called “traditional values,” or for the benefits they might thereby acquire." (Atwood, 390-391) "Ranks of chairs had been placed along the right side, for the Wives and daughters of high ranking officials. The galleries above, with their concrete railings, are for the lower-ranking women, the Marthas, the Econowives in their multicolored stripes." (Atwood, 277) "Mother, I think. Wherever you may be. Can you hear me? You wanted a women's culture. Well, now there is one. It isn't what you meant, but it exists. Be thankful for small mercies." (Atwood, 164) Hierarchy Fertility Gender "And Adam was not deceived, but the women being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved by childbearing." (Atwood, 286) "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, 32) Ofglen Offred They are displayed as property of their commanders "My name isn't Offred. I have another name, which nobody uses now because it is forbidden." (Atwood, 106) Effort by the society to erase women's identities and thus the women are perceived as articles of men who exercise sexual mastery over them.
ii) Women treat one another differently when the balance of power is disturbed. "We are for breeding purposes. There is supposed to be nothing entertaining about us, no room is to be permitted for the flowering of secret lusts; We are two-legged womb, that’s all: sacred vessels." (Atwood, 176) The
Handmaid's
Tale "GENDER ROLES" Sara, Cassie, Brooke & Clayton Men (commanders + guardians) somewhat hold women in high regard. "The two young Guardians salute us ... such tokens are accorded to us. They are supposed to show respect because of the nature of our service." (Atwood, 28) Men treat women like objects of their advantage. i) Many women who see those of different stations as below them, treat those women with derision. Wives Handmaids Aunts Marthas Econowives Unwomen "So now that we don't have clothes, you merely treat us like different woman. This is ironic, because he doesn't acknowledge it." (Atwood, 308) but Women are dependent on men "Something had shifted, some balance. I felt shrunken, so that when [Luke] put his arm around me, I was a small doll. He doesn't mind this; maybe he even likes it, we are not each other anymore. I am his." (Atwood, 261) A prominent lack of understanding and social disconnect is evident between the different classes of women. Due to the portrayal and depiction of different characters and of society, one can say that Margret Atwood's, The Handmaid’s Tale, is neither a book of feminism nor of anti-feminism. "She's a magic presence to us, an object of envy and desire, we covet her ... showing us what can still be done; we too can be saved." (Atwood, 35) Wife vs. Handmaid Aunt vs. Wives Handmaid vs. Handmaid "They (the Wives) are defeated women."
(Atwood, 62) All range
of Women .Offred's Mother
.Moira ~Point of View ~Characters "...It was a patronymic, composed of the possessive preposition and the first name of the gentleman in question."(Atwood, 387) ~Downfall of major Feminists ~Women are deprived of basic rights ~Lack of camaraderie ~Women whom depend on men iii) Even women who face similar circumstances must be cautious of betrayal. Handmaid vs.
Handmaid “’I thought you were a true believer,’ Ofglen says. ‘I thought you were,’ I say.” (Atwood, 218) Martha
vs.
Handmaid "Once, though, I heard Rita say to Cora that she wouldn't debase herself like that." (Atwood, 13) "We put our hands over our hearts to show these stranger women that we feel with them in their loss. Beneath the veil the first one scowls at us. One of the others turns aside, spits on the sidewalk. The Econowives do not like us." (Atwood, 59) ~Dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood Thesis: Due to the huge risk (death or unhumanization) associated with speaking against the doctrines of Gileadean society, extreme caution is warranted from members of it who attempt to do so. Feminist or Anti feminist? However, the anti-feminism can be used as a lesson in today's society. At face value, the novel is Anti- feminist. Too much of a good thing is bad. The Gileadean society took feminism to such an extent that it became anti-feminism. ~So feminist that it is often viewed as anti-feminist. ~Tells of a society that has removed all of the rights women once had. ~Narrated by Offred, a handmaid Jezebels Ofwayne "Serena Joy leaning on her cane while she lowers herself down on my shoulder to steady herself, as if I'm a piece of furniture." (Atwood, 101) "...they said I was too dangerous to be allowed the priveledge of returning to the Red Center. They said I would be a corrupting influence. I had my choice, they said, this or the Colonies." (Atwood, 323) Econowives
vs.
Handmaids “Ain’t like you’re common. She means the Commander’s rank.”(Atwood, 64) TREATMENT
OF
WOMEN
BY
WOMEN Gender roles play a key role for the divisions within the society Women are stripped of wealth, rights and individuality.
Took feminism to such an extent that that it became an anti-feminist society. Divisions of Jobs Among Women
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