And Symbolism In The Handmaid's Tale By Margaret Atwood

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Margaret Atwood, a feminist writer produced her novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ during the 1980s, a time when women were struggling to gain independence and identity due to social and religious expectations. This dystopian fiction is set in the near future in the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States. Atwood has implemented many themes and motifs throughout her work on this novel which are all a part of building up the ‘bigger picture’ or message that she is trying to convey throughout this text about female struggle. Her style of language used and symbolism is evidence that this is a text written with ideas/opinions hidden behind it and the audience’s job is to slowly unwind the tale and look at the subliminal messages underneath which …show more content…
She explores the theme of religion by utilizing biblical language in The Handmaid’s tale to show the contradiction of the titles she uses. “The Angels stood with their backs facing us”, Atwood deliberately chose to name the soldiers who look out for trouble in Gilead ‘Angels’, as in relation to religion an Angel is related to purity and are perceived as good saviours, however in this case Angels are the ones that are feared and offer no security. The reference to Angels is used to confuse the reader as the word itself prompts and idea of ‘good’ in our minds because of what we associate it with, which is why in this case we are perplexed when Offred says ‘their backs facing us’ because an Angel would surely give a helping hand rather than turn their back on the helpless? However Atwood could be using this language to show how the theocracy in Gilead was placing their rules and labelling these groups of people as what they thought ‘Angels’ should be. Symbolism is used towards religion in many ways such as the ‘red’ colour of the uniform that handmaid’s wear. Red is the stereotypical colour of love and passion …show more content…
Atwood uses powerful language to represent the desperation in this situation, the verb ‘die’ makes it seem as if it is crucial to bear children otherwise you will die which foreshadows the importance of motherhood in a woman’s life or more so in terms of religion and beliefs a woman is supposed to produce and bear children. This reference relates massively to the handmaid’s tale because the most important women were the ’Handmaid’s’ themselves as they were the group of fertile women whose sole purpose was to conceive for the elite. The writer is clever in using juxtaposition because of the way that she portrays the handmaids because she is making them the most powerful women in the Gileadean society due to their ‘privilege’ of being fertile women. This means they are higher on the social hierarchy than the ‘econowives’ who are the women assigned to poor men for reproductive purposes and the ‘Un-women’ who are infertile women that can’t reproduce (so they are useless in the society of Gilead). The Handmaid’s are the envy of the Commander’s wives as they are unable to produce children for their own husbands and have to hand them over to another woman who is legally

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