Margaret Atwood – The Handmaids Tale – Jezebel’s
In this essay, I will discuss how the section of “jezebel’s” (chapter
31-39) contributes to the development of the novel of “The Handmaid’s
Tale” (Margaret Atwood). The term “jezebel” derives from the Bible, as
Jezebel was a woman who conveyed wickedness upon the kingdom of king
Ahab. Also, the term jezebel is often used to describe a dissenting
woman. The section of “jezebels” is significant in the novel of the
handmaids tale, as it provides different views as to the importance of
women, they roles etc, compared to the rest of the novel. This is one
point amidst many which I will discuss in this essay.
One of the most important issues that the “jezebels” sequence offers
contrasting to the rest of the novel, is the alternative view
regarding the roles of women.
In the chapters prior to jezebels Atwood illustrates that in Gilead
women are just items and objects and that they only function in
society is to give birth. This is exposed in numerous occasions in the
novel i.e. when offred portrays herself as a “cloud congealed around a
central object”. Offred say here that apart form her womb, which is a
women’s “central object”, women in Gilead are a “cloud” which
symbolises that they are nothing apart from a grey mist and are
something indistinct, unclear and of no use. If the women do not
conceive, they are labelled as “barrens” and so hence are sent to the
colonies from where they would eventually die.
Some women in the novel (the sterile handmaids) are often classified
as “unwomen” and so therefore are in Gilead’s view “inhuman”.
Women in terms of Gilead are possessions of men and have no liberty of
choice. They are not free to choose when or who to have sex with, they
are banned from relationships and are not able to choose what to do in
life. Women are prohibited from speaking or using language in anyway
or form. This enables women not to become rebellious of the system, as
you can only become rebellious with the power of language.
The handmaids in Gilead are also deprived of their identity, as they
are the possessions of the commanders, and so are named after they
commanders e.g. “Offred” and “Offglen”.
However, the jezebel sequence approaches the roles of women in a
different manner. The club of jezebels demonstrates that men in Gilead
approve of casual sex. The men are able to choose whom to have sex
with, and the women are capable of having sex with numerous men, all
of which are condemned by the society in the preceding chapters. The
main reason why Gilead came about was because of sexual freedom and
because of pornography and prostitution. The Commander says in chapter
32 that in the previous society sex was “too easy” and this made sex
lose its true meaning creating what the commander says an “inhibiting
feeling” or in other words no real feeling. However, this is exactly
what is happening with the club of jezebel’s in which sex is...