Feminist Theory Within The Handmaid's Tale

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Feminist Theory Within The Handmaid’s Tale
Feminist criticism is a literary approach that seeks to distinguish the human experience from the male experience. Feminist critics draw attention to the ways in which patriarchal social structures purloined women while male authors have capitalized women in their portrayal of them. This movement did not gain recognition until the late 1960’s and 1970’s. There are many feminist criticism approaches to literature. In the 1970’s, The Second Wave of Feminism occurred known as Gynocriticism, which was pioneered by Elaine Showalter. Gynocriticism “exposes the mechanisms of patriarchy and the cultural ‘mind-set’ in men and women which perpetuated sexual inequality” (Barry 117), and involves three major
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The bible is abused by the regime and is used to name the people and objects. All of western civilization is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideology, for example the names that the women citizen’s are given “Marthas”, “Wives”, “Handmaids”, “Econowives” and “Unwomen” are divided into different classes. Specifically, Genesis 30:1-3 refers to the given name, “Handmaid” in the Old Testament. Names are not the only thing the regime imposes by using the bible in Gilead. Stores are referred directly to the bible such as the bakery which is called “Loaves and Fishes, and the butcher is called “All Flesh.” By renaming these stores the state makes many references to the Bible daily. Strange and small pieces of Biblical text are frequent throughout and the most prime example within The Handmaid’s Tale would be “Blessed be this, blessed be that. They played it from a disc; the voice was a man 's. Blessed be the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed be the meek. Blessed are the silent. I knew they made that up, I knew it was wrong, and they left things out too, but there was no way of checking” (Atwood 26). Here Offred realizes that this passage has been revised from the bible but is unable to look up the original words because reading and writing are strictly outlawed. The Commander is the only person in the household who is allowed to read …show more content…
“Atwood resists strongly the idea of an “ideal woman” and in general, any set of definitive attributes which make a woman ideal” (Bowman 9). Atwood establishes a binary between women and men through her writing of Offred’s journey to self-discovery and freedom from oppression. Her use of extremes and language is powerful in showing the many issues women are facing today. Absolute control over women is shown by this theocratic society where men have absolute control over the women. As a feminist Atwood has revalued a woman’s experience, challenged the representations of women in literature, and examined power relations “which are obtained in texts and in life, with a view to breaking them down, seeing reading as a political act, and showing the extent of patriarchy. (Barry

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