Gilead's Language System In Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale"

1057 words - 4 pages

The Handmaid's Tale, a dystopian futuristic novel by Margaret Atwood recounts the story of a totalitarian state, Gilead, which endorses the dehumanization of women with the excuse of effacing all scurrilous events and resolving a catastrophic problem of waning population rates. Gilead's tyrannical power lies in its ability to reduce multiplicity of thought in its subjects by banning all types of reading and writing, and reducing the daily vocabulary to a number of "politically-correct" assertions. It is of paramount importance, therefore, to first peruse the state's language system and discuss how it holds power over its subjects, before analysing the effects it has on the demeanour of a member of this oppressive society.In order to see how Gilead's language bolsters its totalitarian regime, it is vital to comprehend what a totalitarian regime is. The word totalitarian describes a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life. The very goal of a totalitarian state, therefore, is to hold complete supremacy over its subjects and subdue all concepts of independence and individuality. The Handmaid's Tale shows that apart from using terror, torture and fear to maintain order, totalitarian states engage in the manipulation of language as another important tool to control the minds of their subjects. By controlling the language, Gilead eradicates any thoughts or inclinations which inspire rebellion and disorder.Although there are innumerable aspects of Gilead's language which insinuate domineering control, there are some which stand out in the narration. One such aspect is the nomenclature of the different positions in society. The different classes in society are concretely set and are of colossal importance in daily life. Each particular feminine and masculine group is conformed within several characteristic personalities, defined by their speech, clothing and overall mien. With this, Gilead achieves human classification at an inconceivable level where individualism is close to extinct. This system of naming after function illustrates perfectly that Gilead has created a new cultural relativity, a new language. One is only depicted by one's function in society. The cruellest examples of this categorization is certainly those of Unwomen and Unbabies, denoting that these persons have no worth left - no worth for society and thus no worth in society. The only reason which they are named at all is to serve as examples of what not to be. Anyone of no use to the state doesn't exist as a member of community, instead as a burden for the community.Another element which illustrates the totalitarian nature of Gilead is the greetings exchanged among its citizens. Here, we see that the function of the society is iterated in all aspects of life. The reader first learns of this unusual, quizzical new form of discourse in Chapter 4, "'Blessed be the fruit,' she says to me, the accepted greeting...

Find Another Essay On Gilead's Language System in Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale"

Romantic Love in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

1406 words - 6 pages Romantic Love in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale In her novel The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood addresses the concept of different expression of romantic love through the eyes of Offred, a woman who has lost almost all her freedom to a repressive, dystopic society. Throughout her struggle against oppression and guilt, Offred's view evolves, and it is through this process that Atwood demonstrates the nature of love as it develops

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale: Novel and Film

2081 words - 8 pages Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale: Novel and Film The Handmaid's Tale, a science-fiction novel written by Margaret Atwood, focuses on women's rights and what could happen to them in the future. This novel was later made into a movie in 1990. As with most cases of books made into movies, there are some similarities and differences between the novel and the film. Overall the film tends to stay on the same track as the book with a few minor

The Role of Women in Modern Society in Comparison To Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale"

1571 words - 6 pages Margaret Atwood's controversial dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, leaves the reader with the lingering question of "what if?". Set in the near future, what is known to be the United States, is overtaken by puritan conservative Christians, creating the Republic of Gilead. Assasinating the President and congress, this religious extremist movement suspended the constitution and took complete control over the government. Women in Gilead lost

Personal Discovery of the Protagonist in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

1678 words - 7 pages Handmaid's Tale. New York: Anchor Books, 1986. Callaway, Alanna A., "Woman disunited ; Margaret Atwood's The handmaid's tale as a critique of feminism" (2008). Master's theses. Paper 3505. http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/etd_theses/3505 Staels, Hilde. "Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale; Resistance Through Narrating ." English Studies (1995): 455-467.

Atwood's Attention to Words in The Handmaid's Tale

1061 words - 4 pages Atwood's Attention to Words in The Handmaid's Tale The Handmaids Tale illustrates that dictatorship can be established by creating a state of fear once language controls are instituted. As a tradition to dystopian novels, Atwood has drawn much attention to the meaning of words and the significance of names, as well as the prohibition for women to read or write, in order to portray Gilead as a successful totalitarian state. Atwood is

Imaginary Space In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale

1821 words - 8 pages Imaginary Space In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale “One is not born a woman, but rather becomes one” Simone de Beauvoir. The female body is being constructed by the patriarchal system, which is under the control of the societal institutions like state, family, and economy where power operates in the form of culture, tradition, religion and so on. The societal construction of gender takes place through the workings of ideology. Ideology

Vision of Feminism in the Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

1228 words - 5 pages Feminism in the novel The Handmaid’s Tale written by Margaret Atwood is a prominent theme. This novel represents the morals and horrors of a vision of feminism, which is sometimes taken to the extremes. Women’s rights have been downgraded and as a result of this women are used to bear children and are constantly watched by the eye. The Handmaids are considered powerful figures in the novels’ society while living in a dystopia of cultural

Notes on Atwood's Handmaid's Tale

5553 words - 22 pages restrictions on the freedom of women. The Iranian example is one of the main inspirations of this novel. Given what Professor Pieixoto has to say about the discovery of "The Handmaid's Tale," how drastically would America seem to have changed between the end of the last chapter and now? Anthropologists are famous for their refusal to judge the societies they study. What do you think is Atwood's reaction to this striving for objectivity in the case of

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

1528 words - 6 pages English LiteratureThe Handmaids TaleWill society ever reach a point where it is considered the 'natural norm' by all, and therefore unable to undergo further change? It is impossible to imagine that such a point could ever exist, as all people would have different belief, values and expectations according to their past experiences. In The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, the oppressive Gilead regime enforces their new ideals on the

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

1764 words - 7 pages Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. Toronto: McClelland-Stewart, 1985, Seal Books edition 1998In "The Handmaid's Tale" one of the main themes is the influence of government. All areas of peoples' lives are controlled by the government, which is a totalitarian regime. The government in Gilead rules with the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority. The state in this case believes (or at least

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

623 words - 2 pages In Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, our eyes are open to an oppressive society of which seems to be the near future. Widespread sterility has led to the rich controlling young women of childbearing age, who are called “handmaidens”. The tale is narrated by Kate, also known as “Offred”, her handmaid name. She relates her struggle throughout in the most vivid of ways. The struggle around her: the oppressive Republic of Gilead, and the

Similar Essays

Feminism In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

1085 words - 4 pages Feminism in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale In The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood explores the role that women play in society and the consequences of a countryís value system. She reveals that values held in the United States are a threat to the livelihood and status of women. As one critic writes, “the author has concluded that present social trends are dangerous to individual welfare” (Prescott 151).  The novel is set in the

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Essay

1567 words - 6 pages Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Chapter nine opening section two of the novel is mainly recalling the last chapters and about the narrator rediscovering herself, surfacing the truth. In section one we see the narrator talking in the present tense in a very descriptive form, outlining the novel. However in section two we see her talking in the past tense demonstrating the stories she is telling. The separation between the human

The Dystopia In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

1079 words - 4 pages The Dystopia in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Offred is a Handmaid in what used to be the United States, now the theocratic Republic of Gilead. In order to create Gilead's idea of a more perfect society, they have reverted to taking the Book of Genesis at its word. Women no longer have any privileges; they cannot work, have their own bank accounts, or own anything. The also are not allowed to read or even chose who they want to

Representation Of Colors In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

1784 words - 7 pages Representation of Colors in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale Imagine if you can, living in a world that tells you what you are to wear, where to live, as well as your position and value to society. In Margaret Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale, she shows us the Republic of Gilead does just that. Offred, the main character, is a Handmaid, whose usefulness is her ovaries. Handmaids are ordered to live in a house with a Commander, his