In Margaret Atwoods novel The Handmaids Tale and Tennessee Williams pl
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In Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale and Tennessee William’s play The Glass Menagerie the effects of the attempt for absolute control are very apparent. Throughout the works, Offred and Tom Wingfield struggle with their awareness, rejection and escape from this control. The result occurring from this control is their pursuit for emotional and physical freedom.
Throughout The Handmaid’s Tale the audience sees a future dystopia with total governmental control. The society of Gilead has segregated everyone in the entire country. Everyone is placed into a category; the Unwomen, Handmaids, Marthas, Wives, Commanders etc. People who do not fit into this anti-semetic, heterosexual, Christian nation are hanged on the “the Wall”. This is an example of the control that the society has and flaunts. The segregation is shown by a colour coded uniform for each category. Handmaids wear red, Marthas wear green, the Wives wear blue and so on. Handmaids wear a very modest uniform which is completely covering, except for their eyes which must be looking down at all times. On page 39 a reversal of today’s society can be seen when the Handmaids cross paths with a Japanese tourist group. The Japanese are now considered "westernised" and view the Gileadean people as oppressed and mistreated. All Handmaids are stripped of their name and given one according to their Commander. This removal of identity is used to create the Handmaids as only “two legged wombs...sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices” (146). These are just a few of the many examples of how the Gileadean society has taken away any opportunity for individuality and placed themselves in total control. In The Glass Menagerie, Tom’s mother, Amanda, has decided to try and completely control his life.
Throughout the novel Offred can be seen questioning herself and everything around her. As she attempts to understand the world around her, her awareness of the control that she is under grows. Her retroflective passages of her lover, child, and past life contrast her present situation and show her growing desires. The restrictions placed upon the Handmaids leave them with an uninteresting and unenjoyable life. Their purpose is to produce a child, and nothing else matters. The narrator shows that even those who oppose this way of life are forced into accepting and embracing their role as a child bearer. “I have failed once again to fulfil the expectations of others, which have become my own”(83). The narrator finally realises that she is powerless against society’s control and must accept her circumstances. “My name is Offred now, and here is where I live. Live in the present, make the most of it, it’s all you’ve got”(153). Offred has an atypical relationship with her Commander and is privy to inside information during their late night rendezvous. This is very useful for trade on the gossip circle of Handmaids. This circle gives her knowledge of an underground rising revolt. Offred’s partner, Ofglen, is discovered as being part of the underground and must kill herself to avoid being tortured. When Ofglen is discovered Offred’s own vulnerability is shown and she once again sees the supreme power of the society.
“everything I’ve resisted comes flooding in... I want to keep
on living, in any form. I resign my body freely, to the uses
of others. They can do what they like with me. I am abject.
I feel, for the first time, their true power.”(298)
This is similar to Tom’s realisation of Amanda’s attempt to control his future. Tom is arguing with Amanda when she tells him that “as soon as Laura has got somebody to take care of her...you’ll be free to go wherever you please...But until that time you’ve got to look out for you sister”(53). Tom is very attached to his sister and after this argument, Tom takes initiative and invites over a gentleman caller. This invitation is an attempt to obey his mother and a showing of concern for Laura.
After finally realising the amount of control that Offred is under, she rebels against it. She accepts offers from her Commander to see him at night, which is in direct violation of the rules that have been set forth. The Commander entertains Offred and one night take her to Jezebel’s. At Jezebel’s
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The Handmaids Tale
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