Through the haunting narrative of loneliness and longiong, Atwood leads us to question why reactionary forces fell it so necessary to try and surpress sexuality. In the end, one concludes that it is only by surpressinng the most fundamental of our desires, the desire to be loved, and that includes the manifestations of that love, sex, that a society can exercise absolute control. In the novel, sexuality is equated with feedom. Women have very limited movement within Gilead, they are watched everywhere they go, either by Gaurdians, Angels or Aunts.
Careers are prohibited from women, they have to perform a function which contributes to the home. This is related to many religious beliefs, which teach that the role of the woman is in the home. It is also about control, if women are permitted independence then they will strive for other freedom as well, One has to sever all independace in order to gain control, and submissiveness. The tasks within the home are divided into three categories; Wives, Marthas and handmaids. Wives are mothers and wives, they have the relationships, with both children and husband. Marthas are designated the housekeeping, specifically the cooking and cleaning.
Handmaids are vessels of procreation. This is obviously very similar to more primitive societies where women have been purely housekeepers. Womens Rights Campaigns still demand recognition of motherhood as a difficult and necessary job, alluded to ironically when Offred silently offers her mother this interpretation of a womens culture. The division of tasks may at first appear more fair, women have a smaller workload, they do not have to play so many roles. However, the categorization of women is really a means to control. It enables the authorities to keep stricter hand in whats going on.
Clothing denotes your role, so people are easily recognisable. This dehumanises women, it makes them like machines,a production line rather than people. Gileads theory is that is you narrow peoples life enough, and teach them to think of themselves as machines, then they will no longer want as many human things, and will be happy to be instructed like machines are. Pear Freedom of self expression is regulated within Gilead, ways of communication including speech and writing are forbidden. This prevents unnecessary communication between people, and is a barrier to the spread of ideas, any forms of seditious organisation and confidence.
This lack of communication yet again demeans people to things. Writing is also forbidden because there are no rights to education. This doesnt protect women in any paticular way, it protects the society which is protecting women. Existing educative tools, such as books are forbidden, the library where the cwntral character |Offred works is shut dow by the Gaurds. These ideas are seen as evil, and corrupting. This return to ignorance is reminiscent of many religions, who previously acted as a spiritual police keeping the population ignorant, in order to keep control of people, their values and thus their behaviour.
In the time before people chose to be unaware of many of the violent and destructive aspects of their society. However, the information was there, so it was a choice how you responded to it, Ignoring isnt the same as Ignorance, you have to work at it. In the new tyranny people are not given the choice, however they dont have to work at ignoring it, they are protected form the truth, or hidden from the reality. 1. Explore Atwoods presentation of . in the Handmaids Tale The Handmaids Tale contains many strong female characters, of whom Serena Joy is one.
Atwood portrays Serena sometimes with hostility and at other times sympathetically. Offred remembers that Serena Joy used to be a child gospel star, from which she developed into a media personality advocating ultra-conservative politis and preching about the sanctity of he home, she was a part of the very right wing Christian movement. She is presented as fake, able to cry and laugh at the same time, lacking sincerity and somewhat superficial, which is suggested by Offreds observation that her hair looks as if it is died.
Atwood suggests the hypocracy of her situation, in which she encouraged women to stay home and adhere to traditional roles of wife and mother. She didnt practise this herself however, preferring to establish a career for herself as a TV personality. Ironically, under the Gileadean regime whenb all Serenas ideals are enforced, she is unhappy . Offred says that She stays in her home, but it doesnt seem to agree with her, Serena is unable to live by her own ideas and prefers to spend time stting in her subversive garden.
Flowers are a recurring motif in the novel, representing fertility, which Serena lacks. She is unable to conceive and thus cannot fulfil the trditional female roles, and so has to have a Handmaid in her home, which she cleal resents. Her declining physical health is a constnat reminder of her physical inabilities and her fading femininity. This is a stark contrast to the young blond girl, and her bitterness and loneliness creates pathos for her trapped situation.
Despite her declining physical healtg, serena mentally tough, illustrated at the end of the novel when the commander hides behind her as offred leaves, and on Offreds arrival when Aserena is defiant, her chin is clenched like a fist. Her metal strength and deire to rebel parallels many of the other strong female characters in the novel; Moira, Ofgken and Offreds mother. She is contrasted wit themselves as well, as whilst slogans used by offreds mother may gave been pervertred to suit the regime, sSerena fundamentall desired the regime until she got it.
Serena is also doubled with Offred, both are desperate for a child and attentions rest on the Commander. Tjough these two women both srive for common aim concerning children, they are always in conflict because of their differing status. Serena is higher up the hierarchical ladder than Offred and thus has a lot of power over her life, Atwood makes a mockery of the feminist notion of Sisterhood conveyed most clearly n the Birth Day, and is perhaps also commenting on the notion of sisterhood witin our own society when women oppress other women.
Some pathos is created through Serenas situation in a a love triangle with offred and the Commander. Serena is portrayed as very lonely, and the commander tells offred that she doesnt understand me which suggests Serens is not in love with her husband, however she is very hurt to find out about his illicit affair, You could have left me something.
Her character can also be seen as a parody of the Virtuous Woman, which is what she had presented herself as being. She is estranged from her husband, jealous of her handmaid and has nothing to do other than knit and gossip. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Margaret Atwood section.