Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

The Handmaids Tale By Margaret Atwood English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1189 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

The radicalization of religion in “The handmaids Tale” creates both seen and unforseen, consequences for the people living in Gilead. In an effort to create a Utopia, where for the people in the Sons of Jacob, everyone follows the bible, they wind up failing and creating a dystopia instead. This is evident in the novel when the commander says to Offred, the protagonist of the story:

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

By implementing extremist religious views on the people of Gilead, they created a society that basically destroyed the rights of women, ethnic minorities, and basic freedoms like freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Offred clearly hates the world she now lives in and is constantly wishing to go back to the life she had with her husband and daughter. However, Offred isn’t the only character who suffers from the radical religious views of the Republic of Gilead. Interestingly, the Commander and Serena Joy also become victims of the regime as well. The Commander craves an emotional connection with another women, while Serena Joy is miserable in her own home, with almost nothing to do but knit or take care of her garden. Offred even knows what the commander wants from her but yet she still can’t seem to “love” him as she says: “What he wants is intimacy, but I can’t give him that”(264) . Everyone under the Gilead regime suffers in their own way, while some are more miserable than others. Furthermore , because the laws in Gilead are based on a twisted interpretation of the bible, severe punishments are given to people who commit things like adultery or even attempt to escape. When a radical religious group seizes control of a nation, they allow heinous things like hanging homosexuals, or decapitating women for reading, by using the bible in this case to justify their actions. Atwood uses the Republic of Gilead as an example, to show how dangerous a society can become when following any extreme religious view. Nations have already fallen under the tyranny of  religious extremism like Iran and Saudi Arabia, and the potential for a future Gilead is entirely possible if we don’t see the warning signs.

            In the same way radical religious views do more harm than good to a society, the use of propaganda is another example of how the actions of Gilead create negative social implications. Atwood’s detailed descriptions of Offred’s time in the Rachel and Leah Re-education Center, show how the Aunts constantly indoctrinate Handmaids to believe the twisted ideology of the regime. In the novel, when Janine admits she was gang-raped at the age of fourteen during testifying, Aunt Helena turns the blame on her asking the other handmaids: “But whose fault was it?….Her fault….Who led them on?…..She did….Why did god allow such a terrible thing to happen? [to] Teach her a lesson…”(88-89). Janine winds up believing that she was truly responsible for her own rape saying: “It was my own fault. I led them on. I deserved the pain.”(89). By repeating these kinds of lessons systematically, the Handmaids are conditioned to believe that the life they have now is better than the life they had in the pre-Gilead days. The viewing of  “unwomen documentaries” and violent pornography was also another technique used in the Red Center to essentially brainwash these women as well. The feminists who were shown protesting in the video were in Aunt Lydia’s words “wasting their time….when they should have been doing something useful”(148), although she agrees that “some of their idea’s were sound enough”(148) referring to their stance on pornography. In the novel, when Offred has one of her many flashbacks into the past, she remembers attending a burning of pornographic magazines with her mother.  Atwood uses this scene to critique contemporary feminism as well because it shows how they are basically doing the same thing as the extremists in Gilead (who destroyed all magazines when they came to power). Also, Aunt Lydia’s criticism of the feminists in the film, was also was another propaganda tactic used by the Aunts. By showing a pro-choice feminist rally after viewing a lot of violent pornography, they essentially wanted to portray the feminists as unwomen and radical. By employing these  methods of propaganda in Gilead, the handmaids believe distorted information given to them while being simultaneously brainwashed to the dogma of the regime.

Lastly, just like the use of propaganda and the radicalization of religion, the oppression of women in the Republic of Gilead creates a number of social implications that affect society negatively. For example, Gilead’s obsession with fertility creates a society where a woman’s potential to have a child is more important than anything else. Offred even states: “we are for breeding purposes only: we aren’t concubines, geisha girls, courtesans….we are two-legged wombs, that’s all”(170). This quote shows how a women’s individuality and intelligence no longer bare any importance in Gilead at all. Even in today’s society, a surrogate mother could be thought of as a type of handmaid as well, although definitely not as extreme. A women could essentially sell her womb to a couple looking to have a child, which shows how valuable a women’s womb may be in the future. Another social implication is that women can no longer work or make money for themselves in Gilead because men now hold all positions of power. This sadly, leaves room for women to be abused and manipulated like in the night club Jezebel, where they are practically forced into prostitution. This is explained when Moria says “You’d have three or four good years before your snatch wears out and they send you to the boneyard.” (314). This also shows how mistreated the women are in Jezebel’s to the point where they become empty shells. With the constant oppression of women in Gilead, they wind up suffering the worst and hardest social implications than anyone else.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

In conclusion, when a society falls captive to an totalitarian government, where radical religious views, propaganda techniques, and the oppression of women are used to control its population, a number of devastating social implications arise. Although Gilead did not last in the end, our future could turn out the same if we are not careful. In upcoming years, pollution and radiation could cause many health problems like sterilization or worse. With all the social implications given throughout the novel, the potential for dystopia is very possible if we don’t learn to see the warning signs right away. Even many of the social critiques point directly at our own society where women are still objectified by men on a daily basis. In summary, Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” serves as a warning to our own society, where if we don’t change our ways, it might be too late.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: