thesis – margaret atwood used allusions within the handmaids tale to successfully portray the theme of dystopia.

main body

biblical allusions

Rachel and jacob

Quote 18: “Give me children, or else I die. Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? Behold my maid Bilhah. She shall bear fruit upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.” Chapter 15, pg. 88

  • alusion to exerpt from bible that employs similar use of ceremony and hanmaids to concieve children – using biblical occurences to base laws of a modern society creates a basis for the exploitation of human rights and womens rights, using outdated, historical and extremist occuriences from religious sources and beliefs is the basis to a totalitarian society, bazzar ceramonys as such add to creating a sense of the wrongness and injust that causes emotional and sexual torture, creating a scenario for the handmaids to dred because of its freakish nature every month. quote from book that presents the disgust and uncomfort this act gives the handmaids, “below me the commander is fucking. What he is fucking is the lower part of my body. i do not say making love, because this is not what he is 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 havent signed up for. – i disagree with her final statement, i believe what is happening is a form of rape, not by the commander or his wife but forced upon her by the totalitarian regime and goverment – there puritan beliefs


previouse allusion segways into puritans beliefs and there history of taking aspects of the bible very literally and including strong views on sexual acts. “The society in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a throwback to the early Puritans whom I studied extensively at Harvard under Perry Miller, to whom the book is dedicated.”  the extreme puritan beliefs are used as a basis to create the laws and restrictions (like the ceremonys, strict dress codes that exist, heirachey based on gender, desstroying of objects and things that are seen to be sinful ect) within the totalitarian regime, the relationship established between these restrictions and religouse faith runs throughout the whole book and is used to justify the injust of the entire notion  (example is of pillow – insert quote). it adds to further to the dystopian feel of the novel, treating the members of the society as depraved sinners, they are made to believe and brainwashed to think that everything that is being forced upon them, the sexism, exploitation, murder, sexual, mental and physical tourcher  is to meet the guidlines and achieve merit with god – as if there society is a living hell. – religion can be seen althroughout history as a use to brainwash peopel and societys into doing things that they would never normally do, not only in puritan beliefs. the creation of the egyptian pyramids was thought to be purely motivated by the ideal that a lifetime spent working for their creation was pathway to heaven and a way to prove to god your worthyness. all this ultimately helps get across margarettes purpose of the novel, this religouse ovecoming and controll happens, it can and will happen again as it has all through history.

nazi germany

aspects of the totalitarian regime within hanmaids are seen throughout our own not so distant past, and what would have been happening during stages of the writting of this novel, suggesting margerette used these distressfull times to create inspiration in creating the distopian theme within her novel, using aspects of these times as things to allude to throughout the book. similaritys are seen in the regime within gilead and that of nazi germany.

lebensborne program:

find enemies of the state. These people would quite often be publicly humiliated or even tortured. Such actions making people think twice before questioning the state. Likewise the police and Gestapo had the authority to remove people from their homes and send them, often without trial, to concentration camps. – all the same things happen in gilead, public hangings ect, sent to colonies without trial.

quotes to do with colonies + public executions

People did not question decisions, no matter how absurd they appeared to be – seen in handmaids tale, noone really questioned the change or could do anything.

quote shows xample of that:

using real circumstances that were of large scale and most people have knowlege of gives book underlying presence of realism and makes the dystopian theme more real and therefore intense and effective. develops sense in viewer of the possibility of these things happening as they have before  – knowing even though the occurences in the book seem far fetched really are not in the scheme of things.


Quote 22: “That was one of the things they do. They force you to kill, within yourself.” Chapter 30, pg. 193

Quote 27: “There is something reassuring about the toilets. Bodily functions at least remain democratic. Everybody shits, as Moira would say.” Chapter 39, pg. 252

Respond now!

Latest Posts By Noah