Essay on Handmais Tale

Submitted By Juanparra
Words: 829
Pages: 4

Juan Parra
Ms. Almaguer
AP Literature and Composition
12/119/13
The Handmaid’s Tale Essay, Prompt 1972 In Margret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, themes play a critical role in the story. Atwood introduces the concept of rebellion, identity, and language to reveal the restrictions the Republic of Gilead has on the handmaids. In pre-Gilean society, every individual, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity had the principle freedoms of “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (John Locke). The Constitution of the United Sates of America with the aid of selective incorporation and Supreme Court cases granted every individual freedoms not seen in Gilean society. Women especially had the right to express themselves, be independent, practice the religion of their choice, and the many other freedoms. In Gilean society, al theses basic human liberties are stripped. Women are in every sense stripped of their livelihood. The opening scene of this novel gives the reader a description of what once was a gymnasium. The author uses words such as “formerly/ would have been held there/ gone.” to show how a rebellion has changed everything. What once was the leading powerhouse of the world has been limited to only male workforce. It is impossible to be an economically prosperous country without half the workforce, in this case the women. The gymnasium serves as a metaphor of pre-Gilean society. Atwood writes “for the games that were formally played there” to show how in present times the former gymnasium is now nothing. The United States once a country of riches, in the Republic of Gilead, it seems like a wasteland. Offred describes how the rebellion is set up. The aunts watch over the handmaids, the Guardians stand outside the building and are not allowed to come in only when called, and the Angels stand outside a barbed wire with their backs facing the building. This gives the reader a sense that the handmaids are being confined to a narrow area. The multiple and constant surveillance completely eliminates the handmaids of any right of privacy or liberty. No longer can women roam freely, they are subjects to the hierarchy of Gilead. Offred also reveals that in this society, women are not equal to men. Atwood writes that the aunts have “No guns though, even they could not be trusted with guns. Guns were for the guards,” This shows how the oppression of women plays such an important role in this novel. Women have been deprived of any sort of their former lives. In addition, another theme is revealed in the first paragraph, identity through language. The handmaids are no longer their former selves. The taking of their names signifies a new identity. The handmaids must whisper their names to each other just so that their memory of their former lives is not forgotten. Atwood writes “In this way we exchanged names from bed to bed: Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June.” Offred’s name is the only factor that keeps her from becoming a woman of Gilead. Also, the handmaids are confined to the gym, also called the Red Center, with the Marthas. The handmaids are being watched constantly and have no freedom over themselves, Atwood writes “Aunt Sara and Aunt Elizabeth patrolled; they had electric…