Thesis-the control undermines the place of women in Gilead

Have you ever heard of “walking wombs?” Well this is how i feel women come across in the book, that Women are only here to bread. But as shown in Margaret Atwoods 1985 influential novel the Handmaids tale presents an issue of the control of women. Although the women have no basic human rights, they have much more power than one would think.
In the book Offred appears to be a helpless, sex slave controlled by the government, she sneakily uses her sexuality to gain power and control over her placement at the commander’s home, the commander himself and power over herself. In my reveiw i will talk about language such as to create control in the gilead, language is restricted by the government, women are defined by their roles as wives, handmaids or Marthas whereas men are labelled by their military rank. How the Gillead enforces control amongst those living in the state through separating sexuality from sex. And how the commander is like a god, he has control over there movement.

Intro

point one-language

to create control in the gilead, language is restricted by the government. tlk about the title system where woman are defined by there rolesas wives, handmaids, or marthas but men labelled by there milliatary rank.

restricted to freedom of thought, their freedom of language is limited

what is a handmaids an what do they say

point two-sexuality(there bodies)

Gillead enforces control amongst those living in the state through seperating sexuality from sex.

Hnadmaids bodies are completly cloacked “the skirt is ankle-length, full, gathered to a flat yoke that extends over the breats, 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, its just not my colour.”

Atwoods intent allows the reader to see similarities and relate to glorivale talk about how its same in what they wear

Women have been stripped of their rights and are used for their uterus’ to re-populate the world

Point three-movment commander has control over what they do he is like the god

use quotes and state  The Republic of Gilead is based ….

The Republic of Gilead is based ….

fear of not being pregnant fear of never seeing daughter or partner again fear of being banished to the colonies

links similarities through the novel to present society and showing her intent of how possible this dystopian future is.

the handmaids talk helps us  with the control of women through the use of irony in the Gillard.

to create control in the Gilead, language is restricted by the government women are defined by their roles as wives, handmaids or Marthas whereas men are labelled by their military rank.

women don’t have freedom of speech

gilwad enforces control amongst those living in the state through separating sexuality from sex.

present society and the gilead

Offred uses her body and her sexuality to tease “sex starved” men. She gets attention and a feeling of rebellion from doing her best to look sexy, even in her large red cloak.

Therefore Offred’s sexuality and fertility is what gives her power and control over men .

The women of Gilead are severely deprived but still find ways to control people and posses power.
As demonstrated by Offred, The Aunts and by Serena Joy
Margaret Atwood is giving the world hope that even in a world of terrible misogyny and zero right’s for women, they will always have some power. link- https://prezi.com/gz0ngk5s5v7w/womens-power-in-the-handmaids-tale/

 

 

  • Control of women
  • The handmaid’s have to walk in pairs when going to the grocery store to do the daily shop. “we aren’t allowed to go there expect in twos. This is suppose to be for our protection. The truth is that she is my spy, as i am hers” (page 29)
  • The handmaid’s health is important so being feed good food is a priority and no alcohol nor drugs nor cigarettes are allowed for the protection if conceiving a baby. “to get you into the spirit of the place, how about a little drink, commander says . i’m not supposed to , as you know” (250 page)
  • The women are not allowed to read; the shop signs in town no longer have words on them and the commander reads the bible out loud to offred. “He inserts the key, opens the box, lifts out the bible, an ordinary copy, with black cover and gold-edged pages. He opens the book, begins to read” (pages 98-99)
  • “he stops at the foot, where the tattoo is, a cattle brand. It means ownership”
  • pg 187 “any account with a f on it instead of an m all they needed to do is to push a few buttons where cut off.
  • 180 – 192 where she talks about things changing
  • ‘the truth is that she is my spy, as i am hers.’ also use this for control of movement.
  • ‘the republic of gilliard said aunt lydia knows no bounds gilliard is within you’
  • where not each others anymore, instead i am his. 

In Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, women are subjected to unthinkable oppression. Practically every aspect of their life is controlled, and they are taught to believe that their only purpose is to bear children for their commander. These “handmaids” are not allowed to read, write or speak freely. Any type of expression would be dangerous to the order of the Gilead’s strict society. They are conditioned to believe that they are safer in this new society. Women are supposedly no longer exploited or disrespected (pornography, rape, etc.) as they once were. Romantic relationships are strongly prohibited because involving emotion would defeat the handmaid’s sole purpose of reproducing. Of course not all women who were taken into Gilead believed right what was happening to their way of life. Through the process of storytelling, remembering, and rebellion, Offred and other handmaids cease to completely submit to Gilead’s repressive culture. Please see source-link for this excerpt. link- http://www.gradesaver.com/the-handmaids-tale/q-and-a/how-do-they-control-women-what-tecniques-are-used-52291

 

Actual FINAL

Thesis –  Control determines the place of women in Gilead

I have never heard of “walking wombs?”  and I feel this is how women are portrayed in the novel. I was confronted by this novel multiple times as there appears to be so much wrong on so many levels. Women are only there to breed and are subjected to unthinkable oppression. The women are forced to produce children, there is no other reason for them to be alive. They are “enslaved breeders for Commanders”. Margaret Atwoods novel ‘The Handmaids Tale’, presents the issue of ‘Control of women’. However, it is interesting that although the women have no basic human rights, they have much more power than one would think.

In the book Offred who is a handmaid appears to be a helpless, sex slave controlled by the government, she sneakily uses her sexuality to gain power and control over her placement at the commander’s home, the commander himself and power over herself. In my review I will talk about the language which is used to create the control in the Gilead, language is restricted by the government, women are defined by their roles as wives, handmaids or Martha’s whereas men are labeled by their military rank. How the Gilead enforces control amongst those living in the state through separating sexuality from sex. Finally, how the commander is like a god, he has control over their movement.

Control is created in the Republic of Gilead which has changed from a democratic government to a totalitarian type regime. The novel portrays a theocratic state based on the town of Cambridge, Massachusett in the United States of America. This area is famous for the Harvard University and according to an interview Atwood gave to the New York Times, she made this choice because of the areas Puritan background and history of intolerance and strong beliefs.  The Puritans tended to banish people who didn’t agree with them just as they do in the novel, “he could fake the tests, report me for cancer, for infertility, have me shipped off to the colonies”.

The author then ironically demonstrates how Offred maintains her individual power by being able to control her own thoughts; her freedom to think. Often Offred will live in the past and relive it as much as she can while she is surviving the present day, “ Here is a different story, a better one.” She envisions stealing from the Commanders household as a way to take back the power. Her power of thought also gives her hope, Offred fears of living her entire life in her current state, certain actions the women do so they can preserve their beauty to hold on to hope they will get out someday. “as long as we do this, butter our skin to keep it soft, we can believe that we will someday get out, that we will be touched again, in love or desire. We have ceremonies of our own, private ones”

Gilead is a society facing a crisis of dramatically dropping birth rates; to solve the problem, it imposes state control on the means of reproduction—namely, the bodies of women. Controlling women’s bodies can succeed only by controlling the women themselves, so Gilead’s political order requires the subjugation of women. They strip women of the right to vote, the right to hold property or jobs, and the right to read. Their bodies are ‘merely a mound of flesh to surround a womb that must be filled’. The human body becomes a political instrument for the sole purpose of increasing the birth rate. I think Atwood is asking the reader to think about the effect of an apparent increase in infertility, the possible effect of legalized abortions and the excessive use of contraception that is now prevalent in today’s society.

The woman in Gilead are conditioned to believe that they are safer in this new society. Women are supposedly no longer exploited or disrespected (pornography, rape, etc.) as they once were. Romantic relationships are strongly prohibited because involving emotion would defeat the Handmaid’s sole purpose of reproducing.

Since Offred’s only job in life is to have children that Gilead would consider someone else’s, her body becomes affected very negatively. Having a child is very difficult, but being forced to have a child and go through child birth without any satisfaction at all would be extremely hard for anyone’s physical and mental health.

Ironically Atwood also shows how Offred manipulates her sexuality to gain power over the young men who act as guards, she flirts through eye contact which again gives her the feeling she has the power to survive.

Practically every aspect of their life is controlled, and they are taught to believe that their only purpose is to bear children for their commander. Any type of expression would be dangerous to the order of the Gilead’s strict society.

The handmaid’s health is important so being fed good food is a priority and no alcohol nor drugs nor cigarettes are allowed for the protection if conceiving a baby. “to get you into the spirit of the place, how about a little drink, commander says. I’m not supposed to, as you know”. Handmaids bodies are completely cloaked “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 just not my color.”

I believe this description has strong similarities to Glorivale, a West Coast, South Island, Christian community, where some 500 people live segregated from the outside world. Here internet is restricted, clothing is allocated, marriages are arranged and if anyone decides to leave they are excommunicated. The women are ‘openly submissive’ and relegated to kitchen and laundry duties. The uniforms are very similar, except in color, and there is a feeling that everything has to be ‘endured because it is “God’s will”.

I think this book really challenged my thinking and this sort of repression is unlikely to be allowed in the democratic New Zealand we currently enjoy. However, on finishing the novel Atwood leaves the reader feeling how lucky they are that they are not living in the dystopian future she describes.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Lots of great planning, Georgie.
    Make sure you keep revisiting your thesis in your analysis.

    Reply

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