Feminism in the Handmaid's Tale

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Humanities 125

Some would argue that Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that pulls its ideas and beliefs about women and their place in society from the Bible. But based upon the novel, the Bible, and some writings by Christian writers, that is true, but highly skewed.

Let’s begin by taking a look at how society is setup in The Handmaid’s Tale so we can have a clear understanding where the author is coming from. The whole premise is that women have lost all power, freedom, choice, and equality and are instead deemed either suitable for slave/maid type work or bearing children. Girls are taken to Rachel and Leah Re-education center, or the red center, as the girls living there knew it, and “indoctrinated” or brainwashed into the ideologies of the government and taught that their only role is to conceive children. They are also told that the structure of this society (Gilead) is better for women, more respectful and safe. Offred, the main character in the novel has a very monotonous and strict routine everyday that consists of shopping for the commander, the man of the house, and visiting the doctor frequently to be checked, and then undergo the ceremony. This ceremony is the emotionless, speechless sex that she has with commander in order to bear children because of the sudden drop in reproduction in the past society.

Now that we have the groundwork laid, lets look at a couple ways they skew the role of women from what it is meant to be according to the Bible. The ceremony that they participate in includes reading from the Bible before engaging in sex. The only problem with that whole idea, is that they only read a small passage of one book every time, that speaks about a barren women urging her husband to lie with her servant so they may have a child. The problem with this is that it’s taken completely out of context. The backstory to Rachel, the barren woman, is that Jacob was supposed to be married to her after working for her father for...
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