The Role Of Language In The Handmaid's Tale

701 Words 3 Pages
Demetria Magazine
Mr. Milliner

In The Handmaid 's Tale, language is the most important means of communication in the novel. Margaret Atwood creates a world (Gilead) that is all about stripping women 's freedom. It talks about a feminist issue where the identity of a woman has been tore down. She uses language as a form of power. The book is mainly about a society where women are not free. The book is written from a woman 's point of view who was living in Gilead experiencing restrictions in the society. Their freedom has been taken from them. They have no control over their lives or individuality. The society in the book is very controlled and they run on a system where each woman plays a different role in the society.
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For instance there was a quote retaining to how the bible and language controls the society by making them fear those who are above them. “The Angels stood outside [what] with their backs to us. They were objects of fear to us, but of something else as well. If only they would look. If only we could talk to them. Something could be exchanged” (Atwood 2). The handmaid 's refer to the guards as angels. In the bible Angels are known to be protectors that people look up to. The handmaids are discussing trying to escape but they are not allowed to interact with the guard because they are of somewhat higher power. This shows that the people in Gilead are to look up to the Angels, respect them and obey them because they are of higher power. In Gilead they want people to be fearful of those who are above then and when people are fearful you can control them. The use of language in Gilead is so they can take advantage of their minds therefore controlling their actions. Fear is power in the …show more content…
In the book Offred (the narrator) uses language to escape her reality. For example, in the book Offred doesn 't like to say “my” room when she is forced to live in the Commander’s house. Her not saying my room is her way of reminding herself she will not take part in the society 's social expectations and standards. The word “my” relates to personal belonging, and “my room” means my privacy. She believes there is no privacy in the Commander’s house, this is how she holds on her former beliefs. Offred alters the meanings of words so the words lose their meaning. Offred takes words, such as “household” and uses it instead of “family”. She believes the word “family” is an intimate relationship between its members. Using the word family would contradict what the new society is about. Considering that they are not a family but people that are just living under the same roof. This allows her to have control over the words and uses language to refuse social standards. With using the power of language, Offred challenges the society 's official language which tries to control the people in Gilead and instead uses it to survive both mentally and

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