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The Handmaid’S Experience

Texts happen to be, by nature, ethnical artefacts, intrinsically influenced by the societys from where they emerge. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) offers a “twist of today’s society” – the phallocentric Gileadean dictatorship, since seen through the eyes of narrator Offred. Set in a totalitarian and repressive theocracy, Atwood warns of the hazard of fundamentalist religion ideology – very likely influenced by the global revival of totalitarianism in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The lady offers a warning, especially to female readers, from the need for feminism due to the subversive nature from the patriarchy (written in the shadow of the 1980s anti-feminist backlash), as well as the requirement for women to work together instead of against each other. With the starting of the UN Environment Put in 1972, in addition to the publication of Rachel Carson’s 1962 Quiet Spring, global concern over environmental degradation was noticeable during the eighties – affecting Atwood’s dystopian warning with the need to preserve our environment. Consequently Atwood’s in-text concerns arise in the story.

The 1980s presented environmental issues, influencing The Handmaid’s Tale’s dystopian interpretation of a ravaged environment, and its suggestion with the need to preserve our environment ‘before it is also late’. 1980’s environmental concerns were noticeable from the 1983 UN Universe Commission about Environment and Development (the Brundtland Report), the starting of the ESTE Environment Program and the Union Carbide Bhopal gas outflow disaster India – which in turn sparked immense protest and worldwide trend. Offred explains “an Unbaby, with a pinhead, or two body’s, or a snout…or webbed feet”. This troubling dystopic picture evokes Traditional notions of half-man half-beast creatures – implying a purpose to avoid this scenario of environmental destruction. In numerous occasions, Offred observes the character of Serena Happiness in the back garden “positioning her shears” “like a loco intent around the seedpods”. The seedpods are a plants reproductive system organs, such like a figurative level, this might be read as humankind, ‘suicide bombers’ destroying the future of the environment and eradicating ourselves to do so. Composing from the vanguard of the 1980s environmental movements, Atwood emphasises the importance of environmental maintenance.

Atwood submits a great indictment against fundamentalist faith, likely motivated by her fears encircling the revival of the American New Correct such as the lates 1970s Moral Vast majority, figures such as Pat Robertson, as well as the surge of the lates 1970s Iran theocracy and Sharia law below Ayatollah Khomeini. The Gileadean regime pushes its ‘Handmaids’ to undertake daily prayer. Offred states that “what we all prayed pertaining to was anxiety, so we might be worthwhile to be loaded: with sophistication, with self-denial, semen and babies”. This kind of highly sarcastic, yet funny, statement highlights the anxiety and hypocrisy of the plan -perverting what should be a significant religious action. Offred also humorously claims that “the Bible can be kept locked up, the way people once kept tea locked up”. To a modern day reader, the idea of locking tea up appears absurd, and through the accommodement of these two actions Atwood highlights the absurd degree to which the regime offers perverted spiritual worship. Also this is seen in the Gileadean motto that “God is a national resource” plus the purchase of ‘prayers’– highlighting the regimes vente and bastardisation of worship, and in turn disheartening fundamentalist faith.

Atwood criticises a global in which females are complicit in their personal subjugation, emphasising the need for feminism. The character of Serena Happiness acts as the regimes mouthpiece for anti-feminism – “her speeches had been abouthow women should stay home”, drawing a parallel with eighties Christian televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker’s identical speeches. Yet , Offred’s extremely unsavoury portrayal of Serena perhaps signifies Atwood’s disapproval of the actions of woman anti-feminists. For instance , Offred introduces Serena with a ring onto her finger “like an satrical smile” “like something mocking her”, depicting her activities as hypocritical. “Her lip area were thin”, her chin is “clenched like a fist” and “her eyes toned hostile blue” – evocative of Serena’s unhappiness and ‘fury’ at having been “taken at her word”. The increasingly recognition during the eighties of televangelists, in particular the “Praise the Lord Club” with 13 , 000, 000 viewers, likely influenced Atwood’s concern encircling women who possess a role in oppressing different women. After the second wave of feminism of the 1960s-1980s, pioneered by figures including Germaine Greer, a traditional backlash was evident in America – for example , the 1982 failure from the Equal Rights Amendment (granting equal privileges for women) to pass Our elected representatives – likely influencing Atwood’s portrayal from the inevitability from the filtration of patriarchal ideology into society, and the requirement for feminism. The society which usually follows Gilead in the ‘historical notes’ seems to have advanced with regard to sexuality equality– having a female “Professor Maryann Crescent Moon” chairing a historic convention. However , Professor Pieixoto then states that they are ‘enjoying’ the female seat “in two distinct detects, precluding, of course , the out of date third” (sexual enjoyment). This really is met with audience “laughter” – showing their particular acceptance of his belittlement of the seat. He respect her in terms of her libido, not her intellectual capability – drawing sharp parallels with the overloaded patriarchal predecessor Gileadean world, and caution a reader of fundamental patriarchal ideologies.

Since readers, we could isolated from Pieixoto’s thought process, positioning us against him immediately. However , his intimate puns, operating in jarring contrast to Offred’s first-person and deeply personal story, alienate all of us from him even further – condemning the patriarchal values he embodies. Pieixoto refers to the “Underground Femaleroad” – a resistance enterprise rescuing females – as “the Underground Frailroad” – espousing the patriarchal idea that this company, and women, were weak and ineffectual. This is certainly again met with “laughter” –and implicit market approval. This individual refers to the Commanders because “gentlemen” – a subtle indication with the esteem through which he keeps them, inspite of their creation of a phallocentric system of institutionalised rape, conformity and horror. In the lumination of the anti-abortion riots (after the the 1973 Best Court Roe vs Wade judgement legalising abortion) as well as the anti-feminist backlash which could always be said to have got characterised the 1980s, Atwoods concern with the pervasiveness of patriarchal ideas, and hence the need for feminism, is made clear.

Texts can not be separated from their time periods, as well as the Handmaid’s Story is no exception to the rule. Fundamentalist religion during the 1980s saw rising popularity, influencing the books key anxiety about this craze. Figures just like Phyllis Schlafly and Tammy Faye Bakker, openly opposing feminism, come about during the eighties – an arrival Atwood discourages through her characterisation of Imperturbable Joy. With all the 1980s came a feeling that feminism was ‘over’ and equality had been attained – a sentiment perhaps still existing today – a complacency which Atwood warns against – by depicting patriarchal systems because invasive and ever-present, hence an ever-present need for feminism. Another ‘zeitgeist’ of the period encapsulated by Atwood is that of environmental concern seen through events just like UN activities and the Bhopal gas drip protests. Dystopias, by nature, scale existing interpersonal trends to their worst feasible circumstantial final results, indicating that they are really fundamentally connected with their creation context.

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