The Handmaid's Tale as a Dystopian Novel

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GILEAD AS A DYSTOPIAN NOVEL
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood takes place in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state where women are seen as an object. Because of low reproduction rates, the Handmaids are assigned to bear children for elite couples. Atwood wrote this novel based on a dystopian society to warn the reader about the dangers of a theocratic and oppressive society. She creates a dystopia with the elements such as; the oppression of women, the perversion of religion and the anti-feminist ideologies. The first element which creates an anti-Utopian structure in Gilead is the oppression of women. In Gilead, women are unable to vote, hold property or jobs. For example in one of the flashbacks of the narrator, she tells how they were fired and how their mony was transferred to their husbands’s accounts. It is an evidence that they try to control women with taking their independence. Also, women aren’t allowed to read and write because it could encourage them to rebel. For instance, the Bible is always kept locked to prevent women from reading it. Because if they can read it, they will realize the perversion of religion in their society. Another way, in which Gilead oppresses women is the control they have over their names. The Hanmaids take their names from their Commanders such as “Offred”, “Oflen” and “Ofwarren”. The purpose is to emphasize that the Handmaids are objects and controlled by the Commanders. To sum up, by taking the women’s jobs, money, right to read and write, the oppression is built. The second element is the theocratic regime and it is conveyed through the vocabulary, the role of the Handmaids and the dominance of males. In Gilead, politics and religion sleep in same bed. There are many biblical references. Domestic servants are called “Marthas” in reference to the New Testament, all stores have biblical names like “ Milk and Honey”. It provides a reminder that the founders of Gilead act on the...
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