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Unwomen, slave prostitutes and two-legged wombs - gender relations in Margret Atwoods The handmaids tale
2002 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

As a highly political writer, Margaret Atwood seeks to challenge conventional notions of gender in an attempt to readdress the social attitudes toward women as well as women’s attitudes toward themselves. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood´s perhaps best-known work, the foremost concern is to depict and warn against the perverted relations between men and women as well as between women and women, in a society which thrives on cliches and stereotyped notions of gender. Consequently, this essay sets out to examine the various relationships in the novel since they all seem to depict and perpetuate the stereotypic nature of gender roles. I have primarily examined the protagonist Offred´s relationship with the three significant male characters in the novel; her husband Luke, her Commander Fred, and her illicit lover Nick men who, I believe, all attempt to justify and enhance their own power and/or pleasure through the social repression of women. However, I have also scrutinized Offred´s relationships with the other female characters since the women also seem to partake in their own victimization by upholding stereotyped notions of gender. Thus, by delineating the dystopian society of Gilead, in which the citizens imprisons each other as well as themselves in preconceived gender roles, Atwood shows what might be the consequence if we, like the citizens of Gilead, uncritically accept prevailing and stereotyped notions of gender.

Abstract [en]

As a highly political writer, Margaret Atwood seeks to challenge conventional notions of gender in an attempt to readdress the social attitudes toward women as well as women’s attitudes toward themselves. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood´s perhaps best-known work, the foremost concern is to depict and warn against the perverted relations between men and women as well as between women and women, in a society which thrives on cliches and stereotyped notions of gender. Consequently, this essay sets out to examine the various relationships in the novel since they all seem to depict and perpetuate the stereotypic nature of gender roles. I have primarily examined the protagonist Offred´s relationship with the three significant male characters in the novel; her husband Luke, her Commander Fred, and her illicit lover Nick men who, I believe, all attempt to justify and enhance their own power and/or pleasure through the social repression of women. However, I have also scrutinized Offred´s relationships with the other female characters since the women also seem to partake in their own victimization by upholding stereotyped notions of gender. Thus, by delineating the dystopian society of Gilead, in which the citizens imprisons each other as well as themselves in preconceived gender roles, Atwood shows what might be the consequence if we, like the citizens of Gilead, uncritically accept prevailing and stereotyped notions of gender.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. , 27 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53884Local ID: ENG D-12OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53884DiVA: diva2:1102444
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
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