Feminism in Margaret Atwood’s the Handmaid’s Tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, takes place in The Republic of Gilead where reproduction rates are declining. To counteract this, the remaining women with viable ovaries, called Handmaids, are assigned to high class households with hopes of conceiving a child. Feminism, a topic that is central to the novel, is the ideology of equality for women. However, the society in the novel is depicted as the exact opposite of feminism. By utilizing the Handmaids as a representation of the females in the Gileadean society, the author exposes the flaws of an anti-feminist society through objectification and the absence of agency. The Handmaid’s Tale illustrates women who are strongly objectified by men. An example of how Handmaids are objectified is through their names. The women are named after their assigned Commander; their name which consists of two parts is constructed with the prefix, ‘Of’, followed by the suffix of their Commander’s name. The main character’s Handmaid name is Offred, meaning that she is property of Fred. This is how Handmaids are referred to in the Gileadean society. Their original names are not used, and through this manner, the Handmaids are stripped of their identities due to the regulations of their society. Handmaids must successfully produce a baby with their Commander and will be promised that they will be allowed to serve until their term is over. However, if the Handmaid has not had a child after three Commander reassignments, she is sent to the Colonies or given a death sentence. This being the sole purpose of a Handmaid, the women are objectified as vessels for babies. I used to think of my body as an instrument, of pleasure, or a means of transportation, or an implement for the accomplishment of my will…now the flesh arranges itself differently. I’m a cloud, congealed around a central object, the shape of a pear,
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