Censorship In Gilead And Oceania Essay

1865 words - 7 pages

A country under totalitarian regime shows no respect for people’s individuality and freedom. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell, are satirical novels that illustrate the danger of a totalitarian government and the dystopia that is being constructed. Censorship, defined as “The act of hiding, removing, altering or destroying copies of art or writing so that general public access to it is partially or completely limited” , plays a significant role in helping the authors to create a dystrophic atmosphere in both novels. The governments of Gilead and Oceania make use of censorship in order to achieve total control over the societies, by limiting the power of language, using deception, and denying the privilege of owning objects from the past. In doing so, the governments can psychologically oppress people’s minds and thoughts.In both novels, the governments use censorship by limiting the power of language to gain control over the citizens. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the government of Gilead does not allow freedom of expression or speech. By restricting the privilege of speaking freely, the government can easily suppress and dictate its people. Handmaids are fertile women whose social function is to bear children for the upper class women.They are forbidden to speak in public, such an example occurs when they go shopping: “I take the tokens from Rita's outstretched hand. They have pictures on them, of the things they can be exchanged for: twelve eggs, a piece of cheese" (Atwood 11). The handmaids can only show a picture of the item when buying groceries; their voices are not allowed to be heard. Offred is the narrator and protagonist of the story, who is assigned to the Commander as his handmaid, she remembers that some songs cannot be sung in public anymore; “especially the ones that use words like free. They are considered too dangerous” (67). Words are forbidden by the government of Gilead because they believe that by removing certain words, the actions associated with these words are also eliminated. When Offred undergoes her monthly medical test, she surprisingly hears the doctor speak of male sterility. “I almost gasp: he's said a forbidden word. Sterile. There is no such thing as a sterile man anymore, not officially. There are only women who are fruitful and women who are barren, that's the law" (61). By removing the meaning of words that the government claims to be nonexistent and untrue; the Republic of Gilead makes everyone accept that all men are fertile and productive. Offred also recounts that reading is prohibited and those people who read will suffer serious consequences. “Reading? No, that’s only a hand cut off, on the third conviction” (344). The government of Gilead is aware of the power of language and perceives literacy to be a threat, thus they limit the use of language in the society as a way to suppress its people. The...

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