Violence In The Handmaid's Tale

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Toni Morrison 's The Bluest Eye and Margaret Atwood 's The Handmaid 's Tale are novels that include many instances of violence in order to demonstrate how brutality informed the ideas and lives of their characters. The Bluest Eye introduces the character of Pecola Breedlove, a young girl whose life has been characterized by habitual exposure to violence. Pecola develops and maintains the idea that she is unworthy of better circumstances and the frequency of violence throughout her life foster and validate that belief. Rather than viewing herself as a victim of the violence, she believes she is the cause—this mindset undeniably has a negative impact upon her childhood and adult life. The main character of The Handmaid 's Tale lives in a dystopian …show more content…
During a Particicution, the social class known as the Handmaidens receive the opportunity to carry out an execution of a man who has committed a crime against the theocracy. The only weapons they are permitted to use are their bodies, therefore adding a sense of brutality to the execution. Offred details a Particicution in which the criminal is a man convicted of raping two females at gunpoint; one of the females was pregnant and the rape resulted in the loss of her baby (Atwood 279). Hearing about a rape necessarily frightens the female members of the society because have been led to believe that they are protected from the viciousness of men; however, learning that a pregnancy failed as a result of the violation enraged them and violent tendencies superseded any reluctance they felt about participating in an execution. Offred writes of the almost tangible bloodlust and hatred that the Handmaidens felt toward the criminal (Atwood 279). Although Offred is certainly outraged at the actions of the man, she cannot bring herself to participate in the violent festivities--she cannot allow herself to succumb to the violence and the madness it causes. She is horrified by the violent and brutal actions of a particular Handmaiden, who repeatedly kicks the man in the head and renders him unconscious; Offred writes that upon viewing that level of violence she felt "shock, outrage, [and] nausea (Atwood 280). Offred does not succumb to the violence of the Particicution because she understands that giving into the violence signals her submission to the ideals of the dystopian society. In the face of the society’s violent tactics, Offred maintains control over her ideas and resists a life of

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