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Oppression Of Women In The Hand Maid's Tale

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In The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood women are subjected to extreme oppression. Almost every part of their life is controlled, and they are lead to believe that their only importance is their ability to bear children. Any type of individuality or expression is forbidden, and dangerous. Even worse, they are taught to believe that they are now safer; women are supposedly no longer exploited or disrespected as they used to be. Personal relationships are also prohibited for handmaids, as their sole purpose is just to produce a child for their commander. However, Offred and other handmaids refuse to completely submit to Gilead by storytelling, remembering, and rebellion.

For anyone, having some relationship or communication is necessary. And although they are forbidden from this form of communication, Offred and the other handmaids find ways of sharing stories and experiences:

We learned to whisper almost without sound. In the semidarkness we would stretch out our arms, when the Aunts weren't looking, and touch each other's hands across space. We learned to lip-read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, and watching each other's mouths (4).

The handmaids talk to each other in order to keep alive basic human to human relationships. Without these interactions, these women would be very lonely, in a very tough time, without this contact these women would not ever be comforted. Offred also says how important storytelling is to her:

I would like to believe this is a story I'm telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance. If it's a story I'm telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off (39).

This shows that Offred sees her writing as a rebellion to Gilead, even if she is writing to no one. Gilead tries to keep all women quiet, but her writing this book, her attempts for communication in other places are examples of Offred refusing to listen to the Gilead.

Offred also tries to keep the past real by always remembering how things used to be. This is considered dangerous to the Gilead because if people recollect about how things were before the disaster, and before Gilead took over, they will begin to realize that their lives were better before. Offred remembers the city:

Lilies used to be a movie theater here, before. Students went there a lot; every spring they had a Humphrey Bogart festival with Lauren Bacall or Katherine Hepburn, women on their own, making up their own minds (25).

When she remembers the pre-Gilead world, she



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