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Presentation of Women Sample Answer Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

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The presentation of women in The Handmaid’s Tale 4

The presentation of women in The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood, who is famous for depicting themes of betrayal and treachery through the creation of strong and vulnerable female characters, produces a vivid set of possibilities with the women of The Handmaid's Tale. The interplay between Aunts and Handmaids-to-be creates an intense effort at subjugation and indoctrination. The creators of Gilead show foresight in turning woman against woman, a method similar to Hitler's use of prison trustees for some of the more onerous jobs of his death camps, particularly the placement of victims in ovens and burial details for those mowed down by machine gun fire.

Although Offred resists brainwashing, her regular references to Aunt Lydia's tedious, one-dimensional precepts and aphorisms ["Modesty is invisibility"] indicate the success of the program. So thoroughly indoctrinated is Offred that she admits enjoying taunting Janine, a victim of gang rape, and even succumbs to mass hysteria and takes an active role in a public execution. When a Japanese tour group tries to photograph Offred, she obscures her face behind her winged headgear and replies affirmatively to their question, "Are you happy?"

These instances suggest that Offred teeters on the brink of total acquiescence, a fact that haunts and terrifies her. Lacking the tough courage of a rebel, she keeps before her the examples of her mother and of Moira, both c...

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