Perception of Women in a Dystopian Culture
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This is how women are portrayed as by society: in-home mothers whos only occupation is cooking, cleaning, and creating a families with their husbands. According to Bloom,”You dont get very far by saying that a womans place is in the home.”(Bloom Online1) In Margaret Atwoods novel The Handmaids Tale, the government puts all the women under protection in this dystopian society, and separate them into social groups. Margaret Atwood portrays the handmaids as slaves, idols,and outcasts among the other women in Gilead.
The handmaids are portrayed as slaves because they are stripped of their freedoms and are used for labor purposes,such as concieving for other marreid couples. The handmaids are the “breeders” of the next generation (Malak 1). The government is very strict on their regulations and there is no room for mistakes or exceptions. The handmaids are not allowed to drink coffee, alcohol, smoke, read, write, look up, complain or socialize with the other groups of men.The Aunts “urge the handmaids to renounce themselves and become non-persons”(Malak 1). Their bodies are to serve one purpose, to procreate. If a handmaid rebels, there are drastic consequences. “These handmaids, who are denied all rights and are severely beaten if they are uncooperative, are reduced to state property”(Atwood Interview 1). This position is relative to slavery . The only ones who are able to escape do not survive. Ofglen, a friend of Offred, commits suicide in order to be truly free. She is a former member of the resistance and her “act of courage” “devalued by the handmaids reaction,” leaving no hope.(Bloom Intro 92) None of the other handmaids rebelled in the tragic death of their companion. In a group session, one of the handmaids mentions how she was raped as a child. The Aunt and the other handmaids say its her fault because she put herself in that position. The techniques the Aunts use psychologically torments the handmaids referred to as ” a cruel redemptive therapy,” by Sophie Croisy.
Atwood also portrays the handmaids as idols because they hold the gift of fertility. There are multiple freedoms taken away by handmaids, but there are pros. Atwood mentions that these women are “prize objects for those in power”. Fertility is the most valuble item in this dystopia Malak calls the “Gilead regime”(Malak 2). The heavy decrease of the population, caused by many toxins in the air, is what causes these fertile women to be so vaulable. The handmaids are also heavily protected, from the time they are trained at the Red Center, to the home they share with the Guardian, Commander, and the Commanders wife. “What is sanctified must be protected” (Croisy 1) The handmaids do not have to worry about danger behind every corner. “In totalitarian countries, the streets are