Although written in different time periods and in dissimilar settings, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy are both feminist novels with main characters who are suppressed by their societies. Misogyny is fully apparent in both novels, and both Offred and Tess utilize similar means to endure their harsh societies. A misogynistic society is clearly depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale. In Offred’s society, the handmaids’ only role in society is becoming pregnant. When Offred is going to the Commander’s house, she states, “We are two-legged wombs, that’s all: sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices” (Atwood 136). Because the Republic of Gilead is suffering from low birth rates, the handmaids are treated not as human beings, but as mere objects with the sole goal of bringing children into the world. Their only values are their wombs. In addition to being an object only focused on birth and children, Offred is a slave to everyone and everything around her. Throughout the whole novel, Offred is rarely able to make any decisions for herself; everything is already chosen for her. “Everything except the wings around my face is red: the color of blood, which defines us” (8). Offred is even judged and branded by her clothes. Red, the color of fertility and raciness, tells citizens of Gilead who she is, and what she is meant to do. As a handmaid, Offred is fully taken care of, but has no basic rights.
Although not as prominent, Tess of the D’Urbervilles also contains several portrayals of a misogynistic nation. In the novel, Alec takes advantage of Tess and completely disregards her feelings and opinions. He never listens to what Tess has to say, but constantly comes back for Tess, as if he owns her. When he offers to help Tess and her family, he says, “You are Eve, and I am the old Other One come to tempt you in the disguise of an inferior animal” (Hardy 366). Alec is mocks her and Angel, and...
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