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Handmaid's Tale Seminar - Propaganda and Censorship

By Rebecca Mallozzi and Carol Yeung


on 15 April 2013

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Transcript of Handmaid's Tale Seminar - Propaganda and Censorship

in Gilead Propaganda Censorship - The usage of biased or misleading information to promote or publicize a particular political cause or opinion
- Used to convince people to adopt a specific mindset towards a certain subject Is Propaganda effective in Gilead? - Used in television campaigns
- Only show footage that boosts public morale
- Experienced in the Red Center
- Showing abuse of women through past pornography
- Showing the women's past rebellion
-All of whom are now "Unwomen" working in the colonies & In Gilead Quotes "They only show us the victories, never
defeats. Who wants bad news?" (Atwood 102) - Offred comments on the government's selective television programs while the Household waits for the Commander
- Provides contrast
- Government's aim:
- To make it seems as if Gilead is winning whereas they might not actually be winning
- In doing so:
- Boosts public morale
- Stomps on potential rebellious thoughts of unconvinced citizens
- Establishes the setting
- Tells the readers more about the newly create Gilead "Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary." (43) - Establishes the tone
- Gilead has the intentions of becoming "ordinary"
- Therefore has intentions of staying in power for an extended period of time
- Provides contrast
- Handmaids, and others, that are forced to play to the rules of this theocratic government constantly compare their current lives to how they lived in the past - Aunt Lydia states this to convince the enslaved women at the Red Center that Gilead is not wrong, only different, and something the Handmaids will have to get used to. "She wasn't singing anymore by then, she was making speeches. She was good at it. Her speeches were about the sanctity of the home, about how women should stay home. Serena Joy didn't do this herself, she made speeches instead, but she presented this failure of hers as a sacrifice she was making for the good of all." (56) - Offred comments on Serena Joy's life as a Commander's Wife
- Provides a character revelation
- Serena Joy's past is revealed
- Provide background information
- Shows the country before Gilead's creation
- Shows the campaigning of the founders of Gilead Connections Text-to-text: Handmaid's Tale and 1984 Text-to-world: Hitler's Regime - Propaganda was essential to Hitler's regime
- Used it to implement policies and enforce opinions and notions on certain ideas
- Mein Kampf
- Nazi Party used many media during their rule
- Newspapers, televisions, books, radio
- Famous examples: Education for Death
- Put propaganda everywhere public - The control of information and ideas circulating within a society
- The suppression of speech and other forms communication How is Censorship Used in Gilead? - The censorship of literature
- Handmaid's suppression
- The Bible
- The censorship of media
- Television channels, satellites Quotes Connections "They've frozen them, she said. Mine too. The collective's too. Any account with an F on it instead of an M. All they needed to do was push a few buttons. We're cut off." (224) "But all around the walls there are bookcases. They're filled with books. Books and books and books, right out in plain view, no locks, no boxes. No wonder we can't come in here. It's an oasis of forbidden. I try not the stare." (172) "Waves, coloured zigzags, a garble of sound: it's the Montreal satellite station being blocked. " (101) - Offred comments on Canada's freedom, which the government of Gilead does not want its citizens to hear or or be influenced by - During Offred's first visit to the Commander's office, she can only gape at the amount of books and therefore amount to information that the Commander, a man of
importance in Gilead, has
- Provides contrast
-In Canadian society, access to books if free
- In Gilead this freedom of information is taken away from the public and only bestowed upon the ruling class
- Displays foreshadowing
- This exact room is the start to Offred's journey to discovering the forbidden side of Gilead
- She also asks for information of the country from the Commander here, something that is forbidden - Offred think about the time before, when the government cut off women's ability to own money or property
- Provides background information
- Shows what happened in the time before Gilead had been established
- The beginning of the discrimination against women Text-to-text: Handmaid's Tale and 1984 - The government of Oceania censures anything that may every be used against themselves in the future
- The protagonist, Winston Smith, works in the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to alter historical records in order to favor the current government
- Irony? Text-to-world: Tienanmen Square - Students' protests in 1989 in Tiananmen Square
- Lead to removal by force by the Chinese military
- Unknown death count
- Chinese government blocked off foreign and local press from incident
-Due to the small amount of vague information given by the Chinese government, there was a distinct lack of evidence that could be used to support or counter the actions of the protesters or the military - Establishes the setting
- Shows just how controlling Gilead really is
- The government of Gilead does not wants its citizens to hear anything about the outside world
- The only channels that are not blocked include Christian worship or Gilead's news
- Contains symbolism
- To Offred and many others that are not willingly
participating in the regime, it represents the
possibility of freedom.
- Even relevant in current day (as displayed by the abundant amount of immigrant applicants)
- Develops conflict
- Offred is no longer allowed certain privileges, while Luke has had nothing taken away from him
- Offred begins to distance herself from her husband as she becomes more depressed Text-to-self: Can Gilead become reality? - If we were living in Gilead, the loss of rights and freedoms of both men and women would affect us directly
- We could lose the right to...
- Speak freely
- Use money and own property
- Read and write
- Just as Offred spoke of the use of Compucards, our society often relies on electronic money - The media chooses what they want and do not want to show us, just like in the case of blocking the Montreal satellite
- People are using religion to justify the choices they make and are using it to manipulate other people
- Ex. Protests and the government
- Atwood shows that there is a real possibility of this type of dystopia developing in real life - The government has complete control of its people, whether it be through support or fear
- Ex. When they are able to convince their people that they are in a state of war when they are actually not
- The protagonist's last thought - Like Gilead, the government of Oceania uses propaganda to feed its opinions and beliefs to the citizens
- They use a figure the public calls "Big Brother"
- Only an actor, not actually the leader or part of the government, worshiped like a god
- Reoccurring statement: "Big Brother is watching" - The suppression of language
- "Newspeak"
- Used to eliminate past connotations with certain words
- Emotionally isolates citizens
- Also censures people who the government deems dangerous
- Ministry of Love
- Social institutions "Take, break, re-make"
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