Self Expression In The Handmaid's Tale By Margaret Atwood

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Imagine living in a place where everything you do is heavily criticized and self expression is not allowed. A world in which everyone and everything is closely controlled and you get punished if you go against the rules. In the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, in the dystopian society of Gilead, the oppressive system forces its citizens to follow assigned roles and rules by being highly critical and manipulative. Throughout the story, Atwoods presents the characters through a series of events which show the impacts on the society. The characterization of Offred, the Aunts, Janine and the other Handmaids reveals how an oppressive community leads to women objectifying themselves.

Throughout the story, women in Gilead live under strict rules that prevent them from self expression. During Offred’s
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In the novel, women are not allowed to wear anything else but long dresses. Offred starts reminiscing about the past and remembering how “[women] wore blouses with buttons down the front that suggested the possibilities of the word undone… [Women] seemed to be able to choose, then” (Atwood 25). In Offred’s new era, she is not allowed to choose what she wants to wear because any other wardrobe, besides her long red dress, is considered inappropriate. Women are now forced to look as modest as possible so that things will go in the way that the community is set up. When Offred and Ofglen encounter the female tourists, they both feel “fascinated, but also repelled” about these women wearing skirts that “reach just below the knee, and [seeing] the legs come out from beneath them, [making them seem] nearly naked in their thin stockings” (28). Since women in the Gilead community have been taught that this type of clothing is not acceptable, Offred and Ofglen have a hard time accepting it. By this, we are able to see how women’s thoughts have been molded to fit the standards of the Gilead

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