The Supression of Women in the Color Purple and the Handmaid's Tale

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Both Celie and Offred are extremely subservient throughout the novels as a result of being brain washed to believe that the abuse committed against them is acceptable or a result of lost hope. An Example of this in Atwoods novel is “Chapter 5 (line 10-11) Now we walk along the same street, in red pairs, and no man shouts obscenities at us, speaks to us, touches us. No one whistle’s. There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from, In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it.” Here Aunt Lydia as well as the Gilead society argue that the women should be thankful that they are now granted freedom from sexual harassment from strangers and this ‘protection’ should make up for all the women have lost, the fact that they have to endure sex slavery and the horrifying rules of Gilead. The Gilead’s society at first seems to use religion to define all aspects of life and define women as a nation resource. The truth is the entire structure of Gilead, including its state religion, is built around one goal; to control reproduction and they have done this by using fear as motivation. Also what they really mean when they say women are natural resources is that their reproductive parts are national resources. “I wait. I compose myself. My self is a thing I must now compose, as one composes a speech. What I must present is a made thing, not something born. (Chapter 12 line 25)” Here Offred talks about totally disregarding herself by play the role of a handmaid to avoid the consequences of disobedience. Just like Celie and most of the female characters in The Color Purple, Offred and the reds in The Handmaids Tale are not treated as individuals with independent selves, but as tools to benefit the male’s need for power and control. In both Novels the authors choose to group the women into different social classes. Although these classifications have some differences, there are...
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