Women’s Oppressed and Disfigured Life in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

Bahman Zarrinjooee, Shirin Kalantarian


The present study attempts to analyze Margaret Atwood’s (1939- ) The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) based on theories of feminist thinker, Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) and applies her theories presented in The Second Sex (1949) that leads to better apprehension of sex and gender. Beauvoir’s ideology focuses mainly on the cultural mechanisms of oppression which cause to confine women under the title of Other to man’s self. In her view woman cannot be a simple biological category, and she asserts that womanhood is imposed on woman by civilization. In her idea, the fundamental social meaning of woman is Other. She believes that biology is the main source for woman’s oppression within patriarchal society, and challenges the discourse through which women are defined based on her biology. She also believes that sexuality is another aspect of women’s oppression and exploitation and all functions of women. In Beauvoir’s view, prostitution and heterosexuality are exploitation of woman. She rejects the heterosexuality as the norm for sexual relations. This paper tries to show how Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale speculates feminist issues such as loss of identity, subordination of woman in a male dominated society and women’s exploitation in consumer society where woman’s body is treated as an object, a tool and consumable item. Atwood focuses on the problems such as gender inequality, and pitfalls of patriarchal system for women’s oppression.


Biology, Oppression, Other, Patriarchy, Sex and Gender, Sexuality

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.8n.1p.66


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