Theme Of Control In The Handmaid's Tale

1191 Words 5 Pages
Margaret Attwood uses her gift for fictional writing to explore the powerful theme of control. She does this through the medium of The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), which won the Governor-General’s award in 1985, and the first Arthur C. Clarke award in 1987. The dystopian novel portrays a current day North America being occupied by the religious extremists the Sons of Jacob. The religious leaders that are aiming to enact its idea of a perfect world heavily control the dystopia’s population. Attwood showed the levels of this control through the techniques symbolism, setting, and language. Attwood using these techniques has shown how control is utilised on the population and relates to how in our own world control is attained.

The control of the
…show more content…
The symbolism ranges from big parts in the text to smaller subtler attempts at symbolism. One of the biggest symbolic aspects of the t6ext is the clothes that the handmaids are forced o wear and as an extension what most female characters have to wear. This is symbolic as the clothes that the handmaids are forced to dress in are very long and reveal very little. This is n attempt to keep the handmaids pure. However, clothes are something that in western culture (where this is set) that we can choose freely and with very little restrictions. The symbolic part of this is that the handmaid’s, in particular, are forced to give one of their most basic aspects of life that they are able to control up to the government to control. Another one of the larger symbolic parts of the handmaids tale is the secret police force known as the eyes. The secret police force has a crest “with a winged eye” that symbolizes the eternal watchfulness of God. However, the eye also is used to look and spy which is what this police force manage to do and take away almost all privacy in Gilead. Although this is rather obvious, the use of an eye that always watches again shows the control over the populations choices, as someone will know if a law is broken. The final use of symbolism also maybe one of the most significant. While in the gymnasium Offred notices “Aunt Sara and Aunt Elizabeth patrolled; they had electric …show more content…
The language Attwood uses has one blaring motif and it is both two’s and pairs. The use of twos and pairs links to the biblical story of Jacob whose two wives competed to give birth to his babies. The use of pairs include “except for our walks, twice daily, two by two” and “We aren’t allowed to go there except in twos”. This use is then used to show the competition between the two women. This competition seems very similar to animal fighting were the animals are forced to fight. This shows the control over the citizens of Gilead the government has in which they may force its people to fight over certain goals. Another use of language that shows control in the novel is through the naming of the handmaidens. The names, for example, include Offred and Ofglen, which are sounded out such that she is of Fred or of Glen. This change in name shows that these handmaidens are more possessions and fewer people. The idea of the handmaidens being possessions shows that there is control over them and what they are doing. The religious language used through the text such, as “these are the kind of litanies I use” and the name of the country itself in Gilead give a wider critique on the world that lies outside of the book. The use of the religious words shows that the indoctrination into this radical religion has been achieved and how it would control. This,

Related Documents