The Handmaids Tale

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James Fils-Aime
The Handmaid's Tale Fact or Fiction
The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel in which Atwood creates a world which seems absurd and near impossible. Women being kept in slavery only to create babies, cult like religious control over the population, and the deportation of an entire race, these things all seem like fiction. However Atwood's novel is closer to fact than fiction; all the events which take place in the story have a base in the real world as well as a historical precedent. Atwood establishes the world of Gilead on historical events as well as the social and political trends which were taking place during her life time in the 1980's. Atwood shows her audience through political and historical reference that Gilead was and is closer than most people realize. Atwood closely scrutinizes Colonial America, back in the 1700's it was a society founded on religion and ran as a theocratic order. Puritans who had just fled Europe for religions freedom settled in the Americas where they could run their society in the way they saw fit. Especially in New England, religious freedom was not allowed, and people were punished by the courts for failing to uphold the common religions requirements. Those who were not of a specific type of Christianity were considered heathens. Men who controlled the society enforced rules on others based on their interpretations of the bible. They believed that "as God's elect, had the duty to direct national affairs according to God's will as revealed in the Bible." (3) Later on puritanical control faded but in the South there was the enslavement and resulting racism toward blacks. Again so called male leaders of society promote injustice and oppression in order to benefit themselves. Atwood also uses her novel to comment briefly on the issues of race, those not of a specific type of Christianity or skin color were sent away to the colonies, or killed. The...
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