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Feminism in the Handmaid’s Tale

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Topic 2: Feminism in the 1980s thought that a woman’s culture and society would be one marked by pure sisterhood and equality. Discuss The Handmaid’s Tale as an exploration of the ideas of feminism, the treatment of women, and the control of women’s bodies.
Feminism in The Handmaid’s Tale.

Women have been treated very poorly through the years and in the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale women have no control of their bodies, the treatment they get from other is terrible and there is no freedom. Offred the main character is presented in the novel has a handmaid who’s only propose in life is to have a baby with the commander. She lives in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian state that has replaced the United States of America. She like other women have no freedom and are only allowed to go for shopping trip, but still someone is always watching. Therefore in the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, the women have limited rights, limited freedom and limited control of their bodies.

The women in Gilead have no rights and have to listen to the rules or the consequences result in death, getting send to the colonies or become a prostitute at Jezebel’s. They don’t really have a choice they can be handmaids to the commander and his wife or become a prostitute at Jezebel’s, but it’s not really a choice thy only have two options. The women in Gilead have to do play their roles in the society and not complain about it. The roles include: Handmaids, Marthas, Econowives and the wives of the commander. Even in these society women don’t stick together there aren’t many friendships being made and the women are all carry jealously with them, “The voice behind me was right. She’s come here to display herself. She’s growing, rosy, she’s enjoying every minute of this” (33). Offed and all the other handmaids are jealous of this pregnant handmaid at the market. The women have no rights and no power they are presented as objects and have to listen to the male or whoever is higher in society. The only options that exist for the women were to play their roles, be sent to the colonies, become prostitute at Jezebel’s or commit suicide.

Freedom is mentioned in the novel several times and it can be considered as an important issue in the novel. “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” (31). In Gilead the women are given freedom from dangerous stranger and sexist. They are protected but they don’t have the freedom to do whatever they want. The handmaids have to walk in pairs whenever they went somewhere, which was usually to the market to get food, “Now we walk along the same street, in red pairs, and no man shouts obscenities at us, speaks to us, touches us. No one whistles” (31). Offred has no freedom and no choice on what she could and couldn’t wear and she isn’t allowed to wear anything on her face like lotion. The wives won’t allow the handmaids to look better than they look. The handmaids wear red dresses and the wives were blue dresses. The women at Jezebel’s are considered to have more freedom, “Moira had power now, she’d been set loose, she’d set herself loose. She was now a loose woman” (167). Moira is believed to be a loose woman because she escapes from the red center and works at Jezebel’s. At Jezebel’s the rules are different and the women are more”free” compared to the women living at the red center and the aunts are less strict at Jezebel’s about the rules. So women’s freedoms are limited in Gilead and they have the freedom from but not the freedom to.

Lastly, the women have very less control of their bodies in Gilead especially the handmaids. The handmaids are reserved for the commanders and they are seen as their property. For example, the name Offred meets of Fred which is the commander’s name. The women have no control of their bodies and they have to have sex with who they are given too. The only purpose of them is to make babies with the commander so that he and his wife can have a child. If a handmaid is unable to get pregnant, they are sterile, they are sent to the colonies. The women’s bodies are used as objects and are only important because of their womb. Offred states “I used to think of my body as an instrument, of pleasure, or a means of transportation, or an implement for the accomplishment of my will” (91). She is thinking about how she used to think of her body to how she sees it now. Before her body was an instrument an extension of her self and now it no longer matters. Her body is being used for only to get pregnant and have a child. Thus women had no control of their bodies they had to do what they were told.

In conclusion, The Handmaid’s Tale deals with the issue of women’s right, their freedoms and the control of their bodies. Offred had no control of her body and she had no freedom she was like a puppet. She was told to do something and it had to been done and if it wasn’t then you were sent to the colonies or sent to Jezebel’s. The only control the women had was the choice to commit suicide. They are trapped in this society and there’s no way out.…...

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