Women And Female Characters In The Handmaid's Tale

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World renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood is the writer of countless poems, essays, criticisms, short stories, and novels. The author of over a dozen novels, Atwood continually features female protagonists and covers themes pertaining to women. The Handmaid’s Tale deals with the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian theocracy that replaces the United States and returns to the suppression of women. Another one of Atwood’s novels, Alias Grace focuses on Grace Marks, a women convicted for double murder, and a young doctor who studies her. In her essays and short stories, Atwood shifts her focus onto other topics such as personal experiences, writing, and fashion. “Nine Beginnings” is about Atwood’s personal motivation for writing, …show more content…
The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that replaces the United States. The story follows Offred, a Handmaid whose purpose is to produce offspring for her Commander. As Offred heads to the market one day, she says “There are other women with baskets, some in red, some in the dull green of the Marthas, some in the striped dresses, red and blue and green and cheap and skimp, that mark the women of the poorer men. Econowives, they 're called” (55). Women under Gilead are repressed and forced into different designated functions. Each function helps to serve men in some way. Handmaids produce children for the barren couples with money. Marthas cook and clean, and Econowives do everything for the poorer men. In “Writing Utopia,” Atwood explains the logic behind the Handmaids, stating that when infertility becomes widespread amongst the male population, childbearing becomes rare and is a privilege of the elite. Therefore, “my proposed future society, which, like many human societies before it, assigns more than one woman to its favored male members” (5). The Handmaid’s Tale appears to take place in a society far removed from the present day. As Atwood states, however, the setting in which the story takes place is rooted in a logical and possible train of thought. The women in charge of the Handmaids make frequent allusions to biblical references to back up their teachings. Aunt Lydia tells the Handmaid 's in training that material worth is nothing and “blessed are the meek” (64). Lydia’s allusion to biblical teachings scarily depicts how normal religious beliefs can be twisted to serve a far more radical purpose. Allana A. Calloway points out in “Women Disunited : Margaret Atwood 's The Handmaid 's Tale as a Critique of Feminism” that by “grounding the social hierarchy in biblical and

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