Women In The Handmaid's Tale

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In Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale she depicts a dystopian society in which women have been stripped of all their human rights and turned into mere tools for reproduction. Women are no longer allowed to own property, work, read, write, marry, speak without the permission of a man, and in any way have agency over themselves. While a dystopia is described as an imagined place in which society has become frightening and harmful, the society that Atwood sets her characters in is not far from modern society in the United States of America. Atwood explains that a new government called Gilead overthrows the old government, assassinating the president and congress to implement laws that would raise birth rates by forcing women to become …show more content…
Women are valued only for their bodies and their ability to conceive children as well as raise them. If a woman is not fertile she is a Martha and made to do domestic work. Giving birth is the ultimate goal for handmaids, since then they are guaranteed to never be sent to the colonies to die. They are praised, as are mothers in modern society as Saprio states, “But parenthood has generally been considered more central and more defining to women, and many people believe women’s parental roles have been used as a way to limit their options and experiences in a way that has not been true for men” (432). If handmaids in Gilead choose not to birth the children they become pregnant with by attempting abortions they are hung and made martyrs. Abortions in modern society are viewed in the same way by a vast amount of individuals Saprio describes, “The Feminist Majority conducts an annual survey of clinic violence, and finds that every year the attacks against providers and even women seeking help are widespread, often dangerous, and sometimes lethal” (430) Women face extreme violence when trying to take control of their own body. For the women of Gilead they do not have the access to knowledge they need to fully understand how they are oppressed. The women are not allowed to read or write. They do not have access to education. Saprio explains, “If women appear very different from and inferior to men, it is because women have been made that way by social forces instituted by human beings who did not know any better. Such a system of inequality harms women because it takes their rights from them and denies them the opportunity to develop reason and thus prove themselves” (60). As education was taken away from the women in Atwood’s story they know nothing other than what they were socialized to believe. Education is powerful a key to women winning their agency back from

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