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Female Identity in the Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid’s Tale is a story where women’s rights have been revoked, and thus women are back in gender roles taken to the extreme, with no rights, no opinions, and no cosmetics or beauty products of any kind. A once independent woman is turned into an object, a ‘vessel’ whose sole purpose is to bear children to save the population. It is a dystopian nightmare which subjugates and subdues women to the point of sexual slavery, language impacts and indoctrinates them in a psychologically-damaging manner, and denies them the basic freedoms which most women in Western civilization take for granted (Porfert 1). The aim of this paper is to arguing the representation of feminist dystopia and the issues related to female predicament, their submissiveness to men in the novels. It will draw a final picture of women’s struggle for freedom. It has been asserted that woman's identity is pushed aside and even erased in the patriarchal social structure of theocratic states.
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  • Faculty of Humanities, Semnan University, Semnan, Iran
  • [1] Margare Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale. N.p., 2012. Web. 14 Dec. 2014.
  • [2] Margare Atwood and Victor-Levy Beaulieu. Two Solitudes. Trans. Phyllis Arnoff and Howard Scott. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996.
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  • [4] M. L. Eileen Brisha. Ecofeminism and Politics of “Triple Marginalization” in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2004.
  • [5] Gregory Claeys. The Origins of Dystopia: Wells, Huxley and Orwell. Gregory Claeys(ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
  • [6] Barbara Ehrenreich. Feminism's Phantoms. The New Republic (pre-1988) 1986 Mar 17 1986.
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  • [12] Christine Gomez. From Being an Unaware Victim to Becoming a Creative Non- Victim: A Study of Two Novels of Margaret Atwood, in Perspectives on Canadian Fiction. 1994.
  • [13] Angella M Gulick. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: Examining its utopian, dystopian, feminist and postmodemist traditions. MA thesis. Iowa State University Ames, Iowa, 1991. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
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  • [15] Yaser Jafari and Shahram Afrougheh. Biblical legalization in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale: A Žižekian Approach to the Theory of Ideology. International Research Journal of Applied and Basic Sciences 6.3 (2013). Web. 30 Dec. 2014.
  • [16] Tara J Johnson. The Aunts as an Analysis of Feminine Power in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Nebula 1.2 (2004): 68-79. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.
  • [17] Linda W. Wagner and Brian Martin Johnson. Language, power and Responsibility in The Handmaid’s Tale: Toward a Distance of Literary Gossip. Canadian Literature, BC, Canada (Can L) 148 spring 1996.
  • [18] Joseph Porfert. Hell On Earth: The Feminist Dystopia Of The Handmaid's Tale. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
  • [19] Eleonora Rao. Strategies for Identity: The Fiction of Margaret Atwood. Writing About Women: Feminist Literary Studies. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1993.
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  • [21] Karen Stein. Margaret Atwood’s Modest Proposal: The Handmaid’s Tale. Margaret Atwood. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000, 2001.
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