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The Handmaids Tale - Online Term Paper

The Handmaids Tale


In Margaret Atwoods novel, "", the birth rate in the
United States had dropped so low that extremists decided to take matters into
their own hands by killing off the government, taking over themselves, and
reducing the womens role in society to that of a silent birthing machine. One
handmaid describes what happened and how it came about as she, too, is forced to
comply with the new order.
Before the new order, known as the Sons of Jacob, took over, women had a
lot to be afraid of. They had freedom to do whatever they wanted, but this
freedom was severely inhibited by maniacs who could strike at any time. Women
followed rules to keep them out of danger, but they were not enforced.

"I ...

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to take away their freedom, they accepted it. They were afraid and the
Sons gave them some security. Because they accepted the first few laws, it was
hard to refuse to not go along with the ones that followed.
When the women were finally stripped of their identities, they felt as
though they had deserved it because they had done nothing to try and save any of
their other rights.

"We looked at one anothers faces and saw dismay, and a certain shame, as if wed
been caught doing something we shouldnt. Its outrageous one woman said, but
without belief. What was it about this that made us feel we deserved it?"(p.
166)

The Sons used this insecurity to round up the women and place them in
institutions where they would be "safe". Once they had them within their
clutches, they were able to use them for their own purposes.
The key to the whole program was using other women to train and control
them. It is hard to go against your own kind, and the Sons knew that if they
used men, ...

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which
reached to the ground, revealing nothing. This was another way of keeping them
safe, so men would not be tempted. The handmaids wore red, the Marthas green,
the wives blue, daughters white, the unwomen wore grey, and "the striped dresses,
red and blue and green and cheap and skimpy, mark the women of the poorer
men."(p. 23) the econowives. "Sometimes there is a woman all in black, a widow.
There used to be more of them, but they seem to be diminishing."(p. 23) The
Sons of Jacob did not want any fertile women to go to waste.
The handmaids and Marthas were then given positions in the houses.
Marthas were permanent, but a handmaid changed every three years, if they lasted
that ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 12/8/2004 09:12:49 AM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1482
Pages: 6

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