The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The themes being developed by Margaret Atwood in the novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” constitute women’s bodies as a political instrument, complacency causes, complicity, seeing, reproduction, and language as a power tool. From the theme of women’s bodies as political instruments, Atwood shows that Gilead was formed due to a dramatic decline in birth rates. The reproduction control goal becomes the driver for rigid political hierarchy, religious trappings, and the structure of the entire state. The theme language as a power tool revolves around an official vocabulary created by Gilead that warps and ignores reality to serve the new society’s elite’s needs. It is made illegal for women to hold employment positions, and the community creates a title system.
Within a totalitarian state, people are forced to willingly endure oppression so long as some slight freedom or power is received. Complacency cause, the theme develops the notion that companionship and physical affection are the two things that make restrictions almost bearable. Complicity develops through how ordinary people are exploited in appalling a totalitarian regime’s acts. The people are made to unwillingly accept their role in the government based on fear and hate (Atwood Chapter 18).
The theme seeing is developed when Atwood draws on the feministic idea that when men dominate, their perception of women is of violence and a form of control. The state perceives the concept of reproduction as a national resource and that those in power will always be enticed to control women’s bodies (Atwood Chapter 12). The Gileadean state has the desire to control and own women’s reproduction.
Throughout the novel, the black color is used to bring the words to life. Atwood utilizes the traditional black and white colors to give the story its life, using a white background. Further, the color combination brings out a minimalist idea that is used in writing. The blue color used throughout the novel gives attention to specific details of certain information in the story. Where the blue color is used, the information serves as an endnote to associated information within the text.
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood. New York: Spark Publishing. 2014.