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Disintegration Essay

1016 words - 5 pages

The role of power is central to both 'The Handmaid's Tale' and Henry IV Part 2, the protagonist in each text have contrasting views, in the former Offred craves any power she is able to find whereas the latter sees Hal shirking his responsibilities. Atwood suggests throughout 'The Handmaid's Tale' that people would willingly tolerate subjugation as long as they feel they have some power, Offred recollects that her mother once told her it is "truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations." For Offred this compensation manifests in the form of Nick, despite her situation she becomes complacent, although this life bears great restrictions compared to ...view middle of the document...

Fittingly it is Hal's new father figure who dismisses Falstaff, finally triumphing in their ongoing conflict, symbolising the triumph of order over anarchy. In these scenes the extent to which Hal has used the Lord Chief Justice as an inspiration becomes clear, as it is not only his character but his speech which has changed. Hal now uses far more regal and powerful language befitting his title of King, he displays little humour at the end of the play suggesting that he means to take his new found power seriously. Unlike Hal, Offred must find her power through more discreet means, she discovers that by manipulating her sexuality- despite having no ability to follow through on her suggestions, she holds power over the surrounding guards. When Offred becomes aware of the sexual attraction the men feel for her, she does what she can to tease them she 'enjoy[s] the power: power of a dog bone, passive but there', despite being 'passive' Offreds actions hold power 'it is a form of resistance and subversion nonetheless' (Dunn) and like Hal her misbehaviour offers her freedom. Offred also learns that some Handmaids kill themselves in a true declaration of power over their own actions, and indeed when Offred arrives at her placement she finds 'they've removed anything you could tie a rope to' in order to take away even that control she may have found.

All three texts 'Henry IV Part 2', 'The Handmaid's Tale' and 'The Waste Land' deal with the topic of disintegration within civilisation and although the three differ in style- Yeats and Atwood painting a dystopian future while Shakespeare writes of by gone social upheaval. All three texts capture the collapse of order and civilisation through the use of similar themes, most notably power and gender playing key roles in the disintegration of mankind. Taking all the aforementioned information into consideration, it is apparent that all three texts 'should serve as a warning and as a wake-up call to the dangers to which our society could fall prey in the...

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