The Handmaid's Tale

Gilead's Betrayal of Women in The Handmaid's Tale 12th Grade

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale presents a disturbing future dystopia in which all power is stripped from women and left in a male-dominated power structure. Throughout the novel, betrayal remains the over-arching theme, seen in men’s betrayal of women as well as the reason behind abandoning all sense of self and former relationships. Society’s betrayal of women as a whole leads Gilead to a power hierarchy which leaves handmaids, specifically June, no choice but to betray themselves by giving in to the society which strips them of identity and leaves them with no personal relationships and a constant trial to stay alive.

Stuck in a society which has stripped all meaning and emotion from sex, and justified by self-preservation in a power-dominated ménage-trois, June commits acts she is both ashamed of and doesn’t enjoy. Driven only by her need to stay alive, she continues to follow these orders, blocking them from her mind as much as possible. During the time in which June is known as “Offred”, the stratification of the society of Gilead has shifted solely to accommodate an act which is made perfunctory and shameful. The “Ceremony”, as it is called, is void of emotion and simply exists as an obligation in order to...

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