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How do female characters portray resistance in novels: The Handma...

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How do female characters portray resistance in novels: The Handmaid's Tale, Yellow Wallpaper,

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How do female characters portray resistance?

The Handmaid’s Tale was written by Margaret Atwood in 1984 at a time when conservative religious groups were growing ever stronger, threatening to reverse the advances women had made over the last few decades. This feminist fear was very much a presence in Atwood’s mind and compelled her to write the novel despite her fears of how it would be perceived by readers. Similarly, The Crucible by Arthur Miller and Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell were inspired by political and social issues of the time which are still strongly related to by modern readers today. The Handmaid’s Tale and The Crucible present frequent occurrences of female resistance; whilst Julia in Nineteen Eighty-four provides an unforgettable female character, resisting against the totalitarian state she is constrained to.

In The Handmaid’s Tale it appears that women are willing to resist the theocratic state in which they are constrained when one of the most clear female resistors, Ofglen, introduces Offred to the underground movement known as ‘Mayday’. The most physical acts of resistance however, are carried out by Moira, ‘a cunning and dangerous woman’ with ‘a bad reputation’ among the Aunts. Atwood presents Moira as a symbol of feminism who unlike the women around her, is determined to regain her freedom. Structurally, Moira’s character is used by Atwood to demonstrate how even the toughest of women can be broken when she is used to provide strength and motivation for Offred for much of the novel before reappearing as the polar opposite to her previous self in Jezebels. Moira becomes for the women in the Red Centre, a ‘fantasy’, a symbol of resistance. In the same way, Julia proves a similar role model in terms of resistance for Winston in Nineteen Eighhty-four. Julia presents far more nerve than Winston where upon committing an act of resistance she remains calm and composed. This contrasts at the end of...