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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Essay by   •  May 17, 2016  •  Coursework  •  745 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,335 Views

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Prescribed Question: “Which social groups are marginalised, excluded or silenced within a text?”

Title of the text for analysis: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My critical response will:

- Show how taking away basic human rights from women such as reading, writing, speaking, is silencing them

- Show how women are marginalised by putting them into categories

- Mention how men are also marginalised by putting them into categories and are given uniforms the same way women are as well

- Show how the taking away of names of individuals is a way of marginalising women

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is about the life of a woman, Offred, living in a dystopian society. In this society, many rights have been taken away from women as a successful attempt at silencing and marginalising them. They are also marginalised because of how the Gilead regime has generalised women into a few different categories and set each group with one goal. With that being mentioned, this essay will be focusing on how women are marginalised and silenced within the text.

Firstly, the regime has silenced women by taking away their basic human rights such as freedom of speech. They are not allowed to speak with ease amongst each other; instead they have been given a bible-based script to follow word by word when wanting to greet each other. If the script is not followed, they are thought to be unfaithful towards the regime. The regime might be doing this in order to avoid and ensure that no rebellion will occur amongst the women of the population. Speaking is one of the most powerful weapons as it is one of the only ways that humans communicate with each other and exchange ideas and thoughts which could ultimately result in challenging each other and the regime. By taking away freedom of speech, it is essentially taking away a woman’s freedom of thought and opinions. This could also be to ensure that women are always inferior to men in the regime as that is a woman’s rightful place. Taking away a person’s right to speak their minds is a way to silence them as they are unable to voice their thoughts and opinions to others.

Secondly, women have been forced into categories by the regime based upon their belief, appearance, ability to reproduce, etc. which as a result marginalises women. Women in Gilead have been marginalised to only one role and their individuality is taken away as they are either ‘an’ Aunt, or ‘a’ Wife, or ‘a’ Handmaid; they are just one of a group with an assigned role. Men are also marginalised through the same way by



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