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What Happened To Freedom? Describing The Influences That Contributed To Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale And How It Is A Reflection Of Past Societies And A Warning Future Generations.

1317 words - 5 pages

What if one day the world turned upside down and individuals were stripped of all their rights, freedoms and possessions and were suddenly enslaved because a group of people believed that they held too much power? What could they do? Nothing. All their rights are freedoms were gone, not to mention all government officials had been assassinated. Where could they go? Nowhere because all border crossings were shut down and personal bank accounts frozen. What did they do to deserve this? No one even tells them and suddenly they are forced into training centers to learn how to serve those higher up in society. No warning, no escape, no hope. Left all alone, their families taken away, they are prohibited from speaking to anyone in their position, and all reading and literature is outlawed. Does this sound like something from a societal horror story? Guess what? It is all part of history. Something similar happened before in Germany in World War II, but this is not the society being described here. One day this could be the future for all women in North America.The society depicted in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is a reflection of past authoritarian societies presented in a futuristic world. As she was a strong feminist and grew up in a liberal society, it was possible for her to create this warning for future generations because Atwood believed that once a people are granted extensive rights, they can just as soon be taken away.Authoritarian societies have always existed at various given times in society. They rule with an iron first and are ruthless when dealing with rebels or free-willed individuals. Margaret Atwood articulates that:The society in The Handmaid's Tale is a throwback to the early Puritans... The early Puritans came to America not for religious freedom, but to set up a theocracy ruled by religious leaders and monolithic, that is a society that would not tolerate dissent within itself... My book reflects the form and style of the early Puritan society... (Reader's Group, p 2)The Puritans were not a people who merely believed in God more so than other religious groups, they just used religion as a way to control every aspect of society without question. Even dictators spawned rebels who fought against the control and displayed their free will. When "God" is at the top of society and his word is taken literally, no believer can question it or speak out against those who supposedly speak for "Him". In The Red Center where all handmaids are trained, they are forced to memorize this statement: "Give me children or else I die. Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? Behold my maid Bilhah. She shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her." (p 99) All handmaids recited this every morning at breakfast as it was a passage from the Bible and was made for the worshippers of "God" to follow. Remembering this passage is supposed to squander all objections in a handmaid's mind about being...

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