The most actively discussed topics that are related to The Handmaid’s Tale include power, freedom, identity, rebellion, gender, and the role of language among others. However, little attention is paid to analyzing the concept of enjoyment and its representation in this dystopian novel (Ostendorf, p. 59). In addition to understanding who has more power in the dystopian society created by Atwood, it is also necessary to explain who can have some enjoyment in the new realities of the society of Gilead.
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It is possible to state that men, especially high-ranking men, are described as having more opportunities to achieve enjoyment in their life in comparison to women. In the novel, women are represented as having no right to enjoy because of their role as handmaids (Atwood, pp. 10-24). Only those persons who have power can also access enjoyment, and the specifics of the society of Gilead add a clear gender component to this problem (Ostendorf, p. 60). Since the individuality of women in this society is forbidden, they also cannot experience joy because the goal of society is to suppress them.
It is important to discuss the topics and problems of power and inequality, as well as the gender conflict, in The Handmaid’s Tale from the perspective of having power and enjoyment and being deprived of both. In spite of the fact that there is almost no place for pleasure and joy in the described dystopian society, the focus should be on analyzing the opposite positions of women and men in this fictional world. Those who have power in a totalitarian society also have pleasure, and those who have no power are weak, highly oppressed, and deprived of their basic rights and freedoms.
- Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Longman, 1998.
- Ostendorf, Thalia. “Enjoyment After the End of Times: The Role of “Enjoyment” in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.” Junctions: Graduate Journal of the Humanities, vol. 2, no. 2, 2017, pp. 59-72.