The Handmaid's Tale By Margret Atwood (Essay Sample)
Write a short paper (2-4 pages, double-spaced) that examines Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Using an analysis of the text (i.e. direct quotation) as evidence, the paper should construct and support an argument about Atwood's examination of gendered and/or sexual citizenship. You are welcome to make use of other class readings to support your argument. If you wish to use sources outside of those assigned, check them with me prior to submission. Due Wednesday, April 18th
1. How is Atwood's vision of citizenship in Gilead shaped by U.S. history? Write an argument that examines citizenship in Gilead in relationship to ONE of the following historical phenomena: a) feminism, b) LGBT rights, or c) the Religious Right. 2. On page 127, Offred imagines saying to her mother: “You wanted a women's culture. Well, now there is one.” What does Offredmean in referring to the ideas of an intensely patriarchal society as a “woman's culture”? (You may want to consider the different levels of power that different classes of women hold in Gilead) 3. How does literacy—gaining or losing access to the written word—shape citizenship in Gilead? (A good thesis will say more than just that men are allowed to read while women cannot).
The Handmaid's Tale
The handmaid's tale by Margret Atwood is a tale of a handmaid and a theoretic state called Gilead. The book was published for the first time in 1985. Although the book focuses on the life of a handmaid offered, it also gives a clear picture and narration of the country's way of life. Gilead is a state that has experiences poisoning that leads to reduced levels of fertility. The state undergoes a coup and the ones who take power are religion theorists who lead the country into a state of total patriarchal leadership and extreme religion. Due to infertility and low populations, women are turned into childbearing objects. The tale portrays women as belittled objects with no freedom and with barely any rights. The book also puts forward the crude and extreme laws and methods of punishment in the state.
Margret Atwood book portrays Gilead as one that is very patriarchal and mainly guided by extreme religious theonomies laws that are crude and wrong. For instance, the women from the lower class or those who are found with mistakes like homosexuality are turned into some form of sexual slaves whose purpose was just childbearing. The handmaid lost their names and was given very little supervised freedom (Gilchris, 2013). They also performed ceremonies similar to those in the old testament. For instance, when the handmaids were giving birth, the legal wives of the fathers would lie side by side with the handmaid and pretend to give birth also. This was in relation to the Rachel and Leah biblical stories. This rheonomic way of life is very similar to that of the U.S before the modification of religion, although Atwood it is clear that the concept was inspired by that. The U.S history, mainly compromised of movements that were religiously based. The people also practiced in a similar theonomy like civic punishments for people who broke religious laws. In Salem, a well-known massacre of women and girls who were enslaved and later hanged with witchcraft charges (Gilchris, 2013). The state was faced with rebels in a similar way who came to form the Protestants.
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