In ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ Margaret Atwood presents the idea of a society that has undergone extreme changes in a short period of time. The role of the woman has definitely shifted, but the efforts of the woman of a time before had completely different motives. The idea of the people that we assume are feminists in the time before the regime, such as Offred’s mother for instance, was to have a world where women were valued as equally as men. Now in Gilead woman are valued but simply as a requirement, like an essential ingredient.
They are needed for making babies, and are granted basic human needs, but they are not respected for what they do, in fact quite the opposite. The people, such as the commander’s wives, despise the handmaid’s as they feel they are burdens yet they still put up with them because they need them in order to have a child. The idea that the handmaids are granted the basic human needs yet are denied needs on a moral level is another important issue. They are fed regularly, but bland and unoriginal foods that they do not choose themselves.
They are also given practically empty rooms with no way of attempting to kill themselves which is a strange concept but still immensely controlling all the same. Offred’s ceiling is something she considers quite often, always describing it with a different metaphor, “I think about the chandelier too much, though its gone now. But you could use a hook, in the closet. I’ve considered the possibilities. All you’d have to do, after attaching yourself would be to lean your weight forward and not fight. ” From this we can see how the regime has actually driven them to suicidal tendencies.
Jobs fall under part of this equality that the people strived for. Women wanted equality in the work industry. In the scene where Offred’s mother takes her to the burning of porn in the park we see that they don’t agree that women are portrayed in this way. Now they are not portrayed in that particular way, they are completely covered up, including their faces. However, they are still objectified, “We are vessels. ” Offred even begins to see herself that way, which is even more menacing. Serena Joy used to be on television making speeches, “She doesn’t make speeches anymore.
She has become speechless. She stays in her home, but it doesn’t seem to agree with her. How furious she must be, now that she’s been taken at her word. ” Even someone like Serena Joy who is benefiting from the regime because she is promised a child, is unhappy. The bible is another component of the woman’s culture. In theory, they are being faithful to the bible but in fact they are simply taking a different interpretation and applying it so that it suits their rule. During the birth, no anesthetics or modern technology is used to decrease the pain, nor are there doctors present.
In this day and age that would almost be considered barbaric. Moira is a representation of a woman that no longer exists under the power of the regime. She was a rebellious girl who didn’t conform to the demands of her society. In her dress-sense, degree, sexuality, and attitude she is considered different. Even at the Red Centre she committed little acts of rebellion, which often we see Offred doing, or thinking of doing. This individuality is what the women wanted, the ability to be different without it being a taboo.
Now, during the regime, all the women, including the commander’s wives and econowives, have lost their individuality. “We are no longer single. ” They all dress the same, are expected to act the same and have the same purpose. Even if there is a flicker of unintentional individuality, they are sent away, which is something that Atwood constantly alludes to making it seem somewhat ominous. If they cannot produce children they are called unwomen basically meaning they are not women, simply because she could not produce a child.
The same with the unchildren, if they are different, they are taken away. In conclusion, there is a clear transition in the role of women and the way there are seen, but it is not a positive transition. Woman are essential to the regime, but they are not respected, they are objects that are used in order to get what the society needs out of them, and they are re-used and re-used and if they cannot do what they are meant to, they are disposed of. The brutality of the force of the regime outlines the oppression that women now face under the power of the regime.