Date

4-28-2020

Description

Margaret Atwood founded a genre of female dystopia when she published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, but female does not always equate to feminist, and it certainly does not in this instance. This paper analyzes the ways in which The Handmaid’s Tale villainizes women through characterization, parallelism, motifs, and other elements. The protagonist herself, for example, consistently displays a lack of agency and an impartiality within the Gileadean regime. At one point in the novel, Offred describes six bodies hanging on a brick wall, blood stained with bags pulled over their heads; she remarks, “What I feel towards them is blankness. What I feel is that I must not feel. What I feel is partly relief” (33). Here, Offred surrenders to the world of Gilead. She even quotes Aunt Lydia: “Ordinary . . . is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary” (33). Offred’s acceptance of the world of Gilead reflects the characterization of women throughout the novel: complacent. This paper seeks to closely analyze Offred as well as the ways in which women are blamed for the Gileadean regime far more than any male character. In short, this paper will examine the ways in which The Handmaid’s Tale mirrors a feminist call to action as a call to inaction and culpability, exploring the novel as a work of pseudo-feminism.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 28th, 12:00 AM

Parodies and Dark Shadows: Pseudo-Feminism in The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood founded a genre of female dystopia when she published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, but female does not always equate to feminist, and it certainly does not in this instance. This paper analyzes the ways in which The Handmaid’s Tale villainizes women through characterization, parallelism, motifs, and other elements. The protagonist herself, for example, consistently displays a lack of agency and an impartiality within the Gileadean regime. At one point in the novel, Offred describes six bodies hanging on a brick wall, blood stained with bags pulled over their heads; she remarks, “What I feel towards them is blankness. What I feel is that I must not feel. What I feel is partly relief” (33). Here, Offred surrenders to the world of Gilead. She even quotes Aunt Lydia: “Ordinary . . . is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary” (33). Offred’s acceptance of the world of Gilead reflects the characterization of women throughout the novel: complacent. This paper seeks to closely analyze Offred as well as the ways in which women are blamed for the Gileadean regime far more than any male character. In short, this paper will examine the ways in which The Handmaid’s Tale mirrors a feminist call to action as a call to inaction and culpability, exploring the novel as a work of pseudo-feminism.