‘The handmaid’s tale depicts a world where all citizens are victims of the totalitarian regime.’ To what extent do you agree?
Through the analysis of ‘citizens are subjected to physical oppression’, it is evident that both the men and women of the Gileadean society are victims to some extent, however the women, particularly the Handmaids are the biggest victims of all. Margaret Atwood’s allegorical novel, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a dystopian novel set in a totalitarian theocracy in which the female population has become threateningly infertile. Atwood presents a society where freedom for women is restricted because of the extreme policies set by the regime of Gilead. In this torment society, the men are confined by the rules of Gilead and are forced to have intimate relationships with women. On the other hand, women are stripped away from their individuality and are assigned to various classes such as Handmaids, Wives and Marthas.
The ‘Republic of Gilead’, is described by a woman called Offred, the main protagonist and a Handmaid. Handmaids are assigned to bear children for elite couples that have trouble conceiving one. Offred’s freedom, like most women within the novel is completely restricted. Handmaids are regarded as second class citizens as they cannot hold any property or be employed. Instead, they are forced to have wordless sex with the Commanders every month. “we learned to lip read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other’s mouths. In this way we exchanged names from bed to bed.” This demonstrates the severity of oppression in the society of Gilead, Handmaids are striped of everything even their real names. “My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because its forbidden.” Atwood demonstrates that the narrator is trying to convince herself that her name is separate from her identity, she is losing hold of her individuality and uniqueness.