Novels like The Giver, 1984, and even more recent publications such as The Hunger Games, released in 2008.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Atwood would stereotypical follow into this category; however, something sets it far matter from it. The novel was written in 1985. It tells of a world set where the Christian theocracy overthrows the U.S.
government. Post war, few women are capable to become pregnant. Thus, woman that have the potential of having children are forced into a system that gives and benefits the privileged and working for the government. A system that dehumanizes and projects the idea that a woman’s real only job is to reproduce to continue the human race. In the mix of all this, the reader is introduced to Offred, a young woman who’s past life was snatched from her hands, leaving her stranded in the unknown. This novel is a tale of her recalling her time in this system from her point of view. The Handmaid’s Tale is superior to other dystopian novels because it is one that isn’t made up of an imaginative future rather based off of events from our past. As stated by Atwood in a New York Times interview, “one of her rules was that she would not put any events into the book that had not already happened in what James Joyce called the “nightmare” of history, nor any technology not already available.
No imaginary gizmos, no imaginary laws, no imaginary atrocities.”(***) This statement therefore confirms that any similarities that the reader finds in the novel to history itself, most likely is true in the sense that is what Atwood intended to make a connection these events to. This essay will outline this by relating events from this novel directly back to our history, giving explanations using historical events along with why Atwood would only write about events that have really taken place and was this novel a warning?It is through the relations to events such as The Salem Witch Trials, the rise of Puritans, along with the history of female genital mutilation, and the Holocaust, which allows the reader to make the connection that this dystopian world is not superior of any other.
Atwood has taken these large historical events and intergraded them into The Handmaid’s Tale.Throughout the novel events, along with roles are established which leads the story along but at the same time can be related back to the Salem witch trials in 1692. The civilization displayed in this novel named Gilead is a future version of the United States after a Christian fundamentalist group overthrows the government. A group in which presents the beliefs of a skewed Christian faith as a way to control society. This includes the preservation of sex for only the use of reproducing, rise in a male dominated society along with having sexual intercourse not for the use of reproduction being one of the worse crimes you can commit. In the event of failing to follow these rules the people, as shown in the novel, will be publicly hung and dishonoured as a way as setting an example. Because of this the relations to the Salem witch trails are hard to miss. During the time of these trials woman were public hung for taking part in witchcraft.
This was done due to the passing of The Puritan Legal Code, a legal document stating that witchcraft is the second worst crime one can commit, next to idolatry and blasphemy. This can be taken to relate back to The Handmaid’s Tale due to the fact that after war strict rules brought a change to the system to have control over specifically woman. I both cases of witchcraft and intercourse against the law was a way for the government at the time to constrict woman of acts against “God”. However, both these acts still took place as a need to act against some kind of higher power. In Offred’s case is the government itself and in the case of the woman in 1692 it could have been “God” and the highly active religious practices of the time. WHY???? Throughout the novel the oppression of woman is consistent. Women are taught in the society of Gilend that only two things really matter, faith and reproduction.
As stated by the Aunt ” ***”. These society brain washed these woman believe this is a natural part of a woman’s duties as apart of the human race, which is to continue it. It only been in past 100 years that woman haven been thought of as people. The oppression of woman in The Handmaid’s Tale can be similar to the oppression of woman committed to female genital mutilation. Female genital mutilation, other wise know, as female circumcision is the act of removing certain parts of the genital. The parts removed for the most part are all in which aren’t necessary for the creation and production of a baby.
This has been an act that has taken place since 800BCE. This relates back to what the aunts will tell the ladies, which is that their only purpose is to create a baby. In some culture the act of this circumcision would be given to their slaves in that time period. This move was a sign of power and ownership over female slaves. It leaves behind scars that will forever be a reminder of the control they were under. Offred was not necessary a victim to this mutation, however, she was a victim to similar circumstances. In the novel the handmaids are slaves to both their Commanders and the government. They are no violated through mutilation but they are violated through a event; this is called The Ceremony.
This event is when high-ranking men such as a Commander or Angel use a Wife and Handmaid to undergo the process of to conceive a baby. However, this event is not one in which involves the satisfaction or pleasure but one of the pure purpose of conserving life. This relates to the mutation of a woman generates due to in most cases all part of the genital that can create pleasure are removed. WHYYYY?? Finally, The Handmaid’s Tale shares a scary similarity to the Holocaust and the rise of the Nazi requiem. This is due to the imprisonment in consecration or concentration like conditions of those who they deemed inferior. Similar to the victims of the Holocaust, the handmaids are imprisoned against their will and have been given the choice of imprisonment or death. The condition of imprisonment have similarities to both history and the novel.
Both places have guard towers and are surround by a fence with barbed wire. Along with this the handmaidens can no directly talk or communicate with each other