Handmaid's Tale Passage Analysis

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Zachary Prisciak
Mr. McGilly
ENG 4U1
Friday October 5, 2012
The Distinction of Classes and Marxism in The Handmaids Tale Marxism, in broad terms, is a theory of social change based on sympathy for the working class. The Marxist literary theory involves looking at a class struggle (working vs. ruling). In Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale a class struggle is seen between the ruling class and everyone else in the Republic of Gilead. This text can be analyzed through the lens of Marxist literary theory at many points and much of that text can be used to prove that same theory. Pages 13-15 show a theme seen throughout the whole novel which is two separate classes as well as the great distinction between the two of them. First off we see the life of the higher, ruling class, called the Wives. This is shown by the description of Serena Joy. Serena Joy is wearing a long powder blue robe, blue being the colour of royalty. Next we see that she has an ivory head on her cane and the large diamonds on her finger. This shows that she is part of the rich, upper class as ivory is a hot commodity and shows wealth. Next we are told of a fingernail that is filed to a gentle curving point. This shows that she is wealthy as she can afford manicures and that she is able to make herself and her body look better. Next we see that Serena Joy is knitting and that she has flowers, both of which are hobbies that show she lives freely and can do things for fun. Next we see the ivory coloured lighter, again showing wealth and her being a higher class, and her smoking a cigarette. Also when Serena’s lips are described as ones “you used to see in advertisements for lip cosmetics” which means that she is able to make herself look better and even boast about their looks. Finally she is being called ma’am by the lower Handmaid showing that she is of a higher status and that she earns more respect. These are some of the things that the upper-class people can do in...
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