Inequality In The Handmaid's Tale

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“Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some” (Atwood 211). Almost all attempts at a utopia eventually evolve into a dystopia because one class is ultimately oppressed. In Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, this is exactly the case, and the oppressed class is the handmaids. The United States is transformed into The Republic of Gilead. The increase in rape and violence against women, as well as the dropping fertility rates facilitated this change. The story begins with a handmaid named Offred. She is one of a few women who are still fertile. Offred works in the house of the Commander and every month, at the time of her peak fertility, she, the Commander, and his wife take part in the ceremony. If the…show more content…
The reader quickly learns that women in Gilead are not allowed to read. This is a luxury that is dearly missed: “I'd read them [magazines] in dentists' offices, and sometimes on planes; I'd bought them to take to hotel rooms, a device to fill in empty time while I was waiting for Luke. After I'd leafed through them I would throw them away, for they were infinitely discardable, and a day or two later I wouldn't be able to remember what had been in them’ (Atwood 156). The prohibition restricts the knowledge of women. It denies them the ability to access the news, to strengthen their vocabulary, and even the ability to engage in any form of entertainment. This keeps them dependent on men to obtain information. This dependence is not the only tactic the government uses to make women feel inferior. If a handmaid fails to become impregnated, it is automatically assumed to be the woman’s fault. Men are held on a high pedestal in The Republic of Gilead: “Sterile. There is no such thing as a sterile man anymore, not officially. There are only women who are fruitful and women who are barren, that's the law (Atwood 61). The lack of equality is obvious when the handmaids are sent to the colonies for not becoming pregnant, but the men are simply not given a promotion. Both the woman and the man have an equal part in impregnation, it is simply not fair for the punishments to be so radically unequal. The government has…show more content…
This choice is changed when the Theocracy is implemented. When speaking with the commander, Offred explains that love has been forgotten: “What did we overlook? Love, I said. Love? said the Commander. What kind of love? Falling in love, I said” (Atwood 220). The Republic of Gilead has instigated a system where women will take part in arranged marriages, thus, taking away their choice in partner. The arrangement also fails to account for women and men who do not want to marry, and homosexuals who are forced into a heterosexual marriage. This leaves a large portion of the people of Gilead unhappy, which could potentially create an uprising. Also, the new government deprives people of their choice in lifestyle: “It's strange to remember how we used to think, as if everything were available to us, as if there were no contingencies, no boundaries; as if we were free to shape and reshape forever the ever – expanding perimeters of our lives. I was like that too, I did that too” (Atwood 227). Now, Offred is denied the choice of what she eats, how she spends her free time, and even her choice in clothing. This is a drastic conversion since women were becoming increasingly independent in The United States. The change increased nostalgia, despair, and ultimately resentment amongst the

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