Literary Devices In The Handmaids

Improved Essays
The Aunts of Gilead use specific word choices to suppress viewpoints that contradict their own. For instance, they believe that casual sex is an abomination, so when teaching the handmaids, Aunt Lydia insists, “A thing is valued … only if it is rare and hard to get. We want you to be valued girls” (Atwood 114). Aunt Lydia uses a specific word, “valued,” to generate certain emotion in her audience. Unlike some of its synonyms, such as “useful” or “of service,” the word “valued” creates a desire to be considered of worth and importance. This is how Aunt Lydia manipulates the handmaids into believing that women must be “hard to get,” or rarely have sex, in order to be worth anything, and thereby promotes the idea that casual sex is obscene. Furthermore, …show more content…
Repetition was used in multiple lessons provided by the Aunts for the purpose of influencing the handmaids’ beliefs. During Testifying, repetition occurs when Janine talks about how she was gang-raped as a child. Aunt Helena asked Janine, “But whose fault is it?” All of the handmaids at the Red Center start chanting “Her fault. Her fault. Her fault.” Then, when asked, “Who led them on?” everyone repeats, “She did. She did. She did,” because Janine is expected to take responsibility for leading her rapists on by the way she dressed (71-72). Repetition adds conviction to what is being said, as well as makes what is being said appear to be popular opinion. Due to the added conviction and appearance of popular opinion among the handmaids, repetition reinforced the viewpoint that a woman should not show her skin, and if she does, the woman is at-fault for any sexual wrongdoings that occur. A less obvious example of repetition is Aunt Lydia’s use of either/or statements. On page 8, Offred looks around her room and recalls Aunt Lydia describing it as “not a prison but a privilege.” She then notes how Aunt Lydia was “in love with either/or.” This love for either/or appears again on page 24 when Aunt Lydia states, “There is more than one kind of freedom… freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it from freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from.” This constant use of either/or statements reinforces that idea that in order to gain one thing, one must lose another. If the handmaids believe that they must always choose between one thing and another, the Aunts can manipulate them into thinking that the Aunts’ beliefs are superior to others. For instance, the Aunts make the handmaids believe they have a choice: wear revealing clothes and get raped (72) or cover up and be protected (118). Clearly, when comparing these two options, the Aunts’ option of

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    The writer, Atwood, conveys the story of life and roles in the society of Gilead through the protagonist Offred and other Handmaids. Atwood writes that these Handmaids were control and convinced by Aunt Lydia’s speech. Aunt Lydia always spoke to those women and made them believed that their statuses were better than others. In the novel, “Some day, when times improve…no one will have to be an Econowife” (Atwood 44). Aunt Lydia tried to induce the Handmaids that the Econowife was a bad thing and was not good enough for them.…

    • 731 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    This relates to those who use “women” and “insanity” together because the women are described as rebels whom madness is nothing more than a description that applies to the gender norms in society. Society doesn’t view insanity as a desperate communication for the powerless but views it more as a form of rebellion against confinement. The fact that the narrator peeled the wallpaper away in search of the woman trapped inside is deeply symbolic and gives the reader a sense of how she feels about society confining her. The narrator says, “I’ve got out at last, in spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back” (pg.…

    • 1165 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    This bold word choice helps her points to come across stronger and more urgent to society.In hopes that society feels as though they need to change these beauty standards. Based on just one part of this quote it shows how degrading these beauty standards were to women. By how Wollstonecraft used the term “slavish dependence” to show that these standards have caused women to believe that having a “slavish dependence” on their husbands is normal. When in fact it’s not and that’s why these standards need to go away. Women should not need…

    • 1054 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Women In Jane Eyre

    • 966 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Yet, it still has a long way to go to achieve its ultimate goal of equality of the sexes. The article and the novel demonstrate how society’s expectations can change how a person makes decisions through examples of feminist ideals and sexualization of females. In the article, girls are often unfairly dress coded for “distracting boys”. Thus teaching girls that their bodies are essentially objects so they should change what they wear so they do not distract any males. The novel portrays the character, Jane Eyre, as a strong, independent woman who practices feminist ideals.…

    • 966 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    This resistance allows for growth and conflict. Readers can see the inner conflict Claudette faces through the phrases she constantly tells herself, “Mouth shut, I repeated, shoes on feet” (“The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference” 231). Claudette has to remind herself to stay within the lines of feminine normality defined by the nuns. This says a lot about the societal view of the woman, which can easily be described as a mindset that women were just pretty faces there to obey their husbands. By saying, “mouth shut”, the idea is that women should be seen and not heard, a common theme of the time and “shoes on feet” represents the need for a woman’s appearance to always be put together.…

    • 1309 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The ad states, “She’ll really learn from you. But Barbie will help.” The advertising works saying by implying that mothers are incapable of fully preparing their daughters for their roles as women. The advertisement heavily relies on the normative definition of women and their tendency to feel guilt. Women were supposed to buy the doll to…

    • 1123 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Self-control is the ability to control impulsive behavior and avoid selfish and rash actions. However, in Pride and Prejudice, the lack of self-control causes prejudice towards others and oneself. The antagonist, Lady Catherine de Bourne was a prejudice woman who actively criticizes everyone, including those in her own social class. When Elizabeth Bennet visits Lady Catherine, she discovers Lady Catherine’s true personality. As Elizabeth listens to Lady Catherine, she thought, “that nothing was beneath this great lady’s attention, which could furnish her with an occasion of dictating to others” (Chapter 29, 205).…

    • 1207 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Great Essays

    If they still choose “incorrectly” then through sisterly love they can see the error of their ways and go back to the straight and narrow. This sounds very close to the idea nuns held when working with “unclean” women. Women were expected to follow a certain social norms. Failure to meet these norms led to a less desirable accounting of a woman’s worth when she came to the marriage market. Those women whom remained chaste were seen as extremely desirable.…

    • 2097 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In making such statements, she herself is putting women into the “tidy box” she claims she has fought against. Furthermore, in the Intersticios article, Alsultany preaches self determination. She states that other should not, “project essentialisms onto my body and then project hatred because I do not conform to your notions of who I’m supposed to be (5)”. Approaching gender identity with such lenses can have potentially precarious results. However, given these points, while it may appear that gender is a long withstanding and permanent notion, gender is not as simple as it should be to…

    • 718 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Law Enforcement Case Study

    • 2222 Words
    • 9 Pages

    In the latter, women overact the stereotype of gender (by being sacred of injury, not assertive, and the taking on of gender roles such as being a seductress or a mother) (DJDG 96-99). This can result in women embracing the service aspect over being stuck in the position, and unable to further themselves in the job (DJDG 96-99). But, in arguing that many don’t portray one extreme…

    • 2222 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Great Essays