The handmaid’s tale


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  • What is your opinion about a future society? Positive? Negative?
  • Before I introduce the book to you, there are few useful terminologies that may help you understand the book better.
    Chauvinism (-st)
    excessive or blind patriotism
    government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided
  • About the author
    Margaret is also known for her poetry.

    Social class examples
    Commanders of the faithful; the ruling class, can have Wife and a Handmaid is necessary
    Wives; top social class permitted to women
    Handmaids; fertile women whose social function is to bear children for the Wives; dress in red

    The new theocratic military dictatorship, styled "The Republic of Gilead", moved quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical, compulsorily-Christian regime of Old Testament-inspired social and religious orthodoxy among its newly-created social classes.

    Not going to tell details about the book! You need to read this book to find out what our future society is going to be like!
  • Dystopian future society
    Unlike what most people today expect, those two books describe future society to regress to the old ages, where people’s rights and wills are ignored. People are considered as robots that work for hours and hours under totalitarian government ruled by a selected few.
    2. Totalitarian government
    1984: Big Brother, Ingsoc
    Handmaid’s: para-military government, theocracy. Only officials at high social status get to enjoy commodities such as “hand lotion”, which Offred demands to the commander as their relationship gets intimate.
    3. Language
    1984: minimization of language by the use of Newspeak
    Handmaid’s: extremely similar. Unwoman and unbaby referring to the opposite meaning of woman and baby. Women do not receive education in the state of Gilead nor the men with low social status. They just follow what the governments or commanders instruct them to do.
    4. Sexual intercourse
    1984: people in 1984’s society are banned to enjoy sexual relationships for pleasure. Instead, they consider it their duty to the party, which means reproducing babies in order to add to the state’s workforce.
    Handmaid’s: Women are treated as a tool to produce babies. Commanders get to have wife and handmaid’s in case the wife is incapable of producing proper baby. This is the reason for the existence Offred, the main character, and the other handmaids.
  • The Role of Middle Ages Women The women of the Middle Ages were totally dominated by the male members of their family.
    The women were expected to instantly obey not only their father, but also their brothers and any other male members of the family.
    Any unruly girls were beaten into submission and disobedience was seen as a crime against religion. (Eyes in the book)

    The law, set by men, also greatly limited the freedom of women. Women were
    not allowed to marry without their parents' consent
    could own no business with special permission
    not allowed to divorce their husbands
    could not own property of any kind unless they were widows
    could not inherit land from their parents' if they had any surviving brothers

    Producing a male heir within a rich family was considered vital. So many women spent a great deal of their married life pregnant. However, childbirth was dangerous as medical care was so poor. It is thought that as many as 20% of all women died in childbirth and it was the most common cause of death among young women.
  • What do you see in common in these photos? (red color=motif)
  • 1. Realistic depiction
    2. No artistic creation allowed in the futuristic society
    3. Clear portrayal of the reality (unlike drawings in which creators can express their opinions easily by distorting figures or whatever photography is hard to do it unless using photoshop program)
    4. Once taken, photo remains permanent (rigid society depicted in the novel)
  • Body: Tool

    Hand: Women, Bounded, Household

    Eye (motif): Men, Clairvoyance, Penetration, Control

  • Represents male (continued motif of red color)
    Eye: omniscient, omnipotent, penetrating
    Light: enlightenment, knowledge (something women don’t have access to)

    Size: domineering power
    Position: center of the world

  • Represents female (continued motif of red color)
    Hand: household work, vital in human activities but often ignored
    Window: oppressed, barrier between women and the real world, not transparent
    Black: depression, death, fear, unknown
    Phrases: key phrases from the book, motif
    (Luke, Latin phrase-ignorance of women because Offred isn’t really aware of the meaning but assumes that it is positive, unwoman-burdensome, pushing down, God-theocracy, night-vulnerable, no control, wife-what every woman secretly desires to be)
  • Black: doomed-fate, miserable, death
    White: angelic, innocent (black and white contrast each other in order to emphasize the portrayal of women in the novel)
    Red: fertility, livelihood, handmaid’s color

    Wine: religious allusion (motif), theocracy, capability (in bible, Jesus Christ feeds hungry people by distributing bread and wine )

    Position of glass: female reproductive organ, vulnerable (eye-level perspective because it is obviously seen)
  • The handmaid’s tale

    2. 2. “…I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” -Thomas Jefferson
    3. 3.  Chauvinism (-st) Theocracy TERMINOLOGY
    4. 4. Time: Futuristic society Place: the Republic of Gilead Theocracy, Stratified society Subjugated women Man vs. Man Man vs. Society Man vs. Fate ABOUT THE BOOK
    5. 5.  Dystopian future society  Totalitarian government  Language as a tool to control the public  Sexual intercourse only for reproduction “…I do not say making love, because this is not what he's doing. Copulating too would be inaccurate, because it would imply two people and only one is involved. Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on here that I haven't signed up for." (page 94) CONNECTION TO 1984
    6. 6. Unconditional submission to the male member could own no business without special permission could not own property of any kind Duty to producing a male heir MIDDLE AGES
    7. 7.  To focus on the gender role Oppressed women VS. Omnipotent men  Power of language  Dystopian future society  To continue on the motif of red color OBJECTIVE
    8. 8. MY WORK
    9. 9. No artistic creation allowed in the futuristic society Clear portrayal of the reality permanence WHY PHOTOGRAPHY?
    10. 10. Body Tool Hand Women Bounded Household Eye Men Clairvoyance Penetration Control WHY BODY, HAND, AND EYE?
    11. 11.  Represents male power  Eye: omniscient  Light: enlightenment  Size: domineering power  Position: center of the world THE EYE
    12. 12.  Represents female  Hand: household work  Window: oppressed  Black: fear, unknown  Key phrases from the book: motif THE HAND…
    13. 13.  Black: doomed-fate  White: innocent  Red: handmaid’s color  Wine: religious allusion  Position of the glass ENIGMA
    14. 14. Enjoyed reading 1984 or Brave New World Likes to read scientific fiction About dystopian future RECOMMENDED TO THOSE…