Oppressed Women in Handmaid’s Tale

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Handmaid’s Tale written by Margaret Atwood shows us unique aspects about the women who live in Gilead, the two different types of women in which Atwood mentions are  unique, which are  the Handmaids and the Martha’s. These two different groups of women are not allowed to read because Gilead imposes a illiteracy on the female population. Both removal of language and prescription of phrases are similar to newspeak in 1984 and the hypnopedia teachings in Brave New World.  The women of Gilead have unique aspects about themselves especially the Handmaid’s.They are not allowed to read books, and by doing so this gives them a benefit of not rebelling against the commander and even the government, another way this gives the Handmaids a benefit of not being able to read is that they can be told what to do and they will do it.  less talking and learning and more working.A quote from this would be :  Blessed be the fruit…May the lord open. ( Atwood, 19) this quote right here is from the bible and it is saying that the handmaids are there just to make babies, whatever condition the handmaids are in the commander and his wife would not care but all they want is a healthy baby, and in the quote the fruit is symbolising the fetus and they want god to bless them.  The novel also mentions prescription of phrases, they are allowed to mention and listen to certain phrases such as  May the lord open (Atwood,19).

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Once in awhile they have meetings; and during these meetings they read certain passages from the bible about  Rachel and Leah and they just tell them that reproduction is very important. The people of Gilead are oppressed from reading and writing, but they have also been limited to where and what they could talk about:  Washroom, I said. Watch the clock. End stall, two-thirty. ( Atwood, 71) this shows us the reader that they are always being watched and only talk about certain things, this may be because they are being brainwashed into thinking this is what they are made for and nothing else, and in this quote we know that Offred and Moira have to sneak into the bathroom and talk about whatever they want.   

In the dystopian society in the Handmaid’s Tale they suffer from many types of suppression and one of them is the freedom of reading and writing, the lock and key is something that only the commander can touch because the the books are always locked in his office and you have to have a key to open this, and in this society the handmaids are oppressed and can not have nice things:  On the fourth evening he gave me the hand lotion, in an unlabeled plastic bottle. (Atwood, 157) this shows the reader that she is not used to having  basic nice things such as hand lotion.  the Handmaid’s are just essentially just a womb with legs, the women of Gilead are oppressed because the men of the society think they are submissive and they need to be put into their place and this is why there are caste systems for the women population, since each woman is separated they can not do much and this gives the men in the society some type of  peace, another reason why there is illiteracy on the female population is because the men want to be on top and show dominance.

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Oppressed Women In Handmaid's Tale. (2019, Nov 26). Retrieved February 9, 2023 , from

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