The Handmaid's Tale - Discourse & Oppression Sample Answers

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Discourse and Oppression in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. 4

Discourse and Oppression in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a thought-provoking novel about the domination and governing of women by men. It presents a dystopia where freedom for women is restricted because of the new Christian government’s extreme policies. This new society, The Republic of Gilead, is described by a woman called Offred. She is a so-called Handmaid, a kind of breeding tool for the republic. The ideology and ideas of this Christian government are presented to us through Offred’s first-person narrative. Flashbacks also provide a picture of the society “before” Gilead. Gilead is described by Offred in a diversified way. She depicts Gilead within the framework of the discourse but she also describes it in a critical way with ironic undertones.

Furthermore, in her flashbacks, she depicts the society “before” the revolution, before the creation of Gilead, which is important if one is to understand why Gilead exists. An essential part of the display of these two different societies is the way in which Offred highlights gender inequalities and power structures. This is most evident in Offred’s description of Gilead and more subtle in the description of the society “before”. Although Offred seemingly describes the latter as better, the type of language she uses when describing her former life indicates that is not necessarily the case.

The claim of...

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