April 12th, 2015
Arguments and Persuasions in Arts/Humanities
The Power of Language
In “A Handmaids Tale” by Margaret Atwood we see the establishment of a new world. This new world has taken over what was previously known as The United States of America. We see a world where women are oppressed, restricted in their rights, and where government has total control over it’s people. These acts of oppression and restriction of rights by the government stand alongside another period in time (though this one not being a work of fiction) which is that of Nazi Germany. In “A Handmaids Tale” within the new society of Gilead we see the use of language being used as a tool ...view middle of the document...
They are not here to live a full and happy life on earth, but rather to serve the greater power. Woman were not allowed to hold jobs, and feminists as well as deformed babies were looked at to be subhuman, and worthless. Black and Jewish males were also not deemed to be equal in society. Readers of this book are questions how a whole nation could let this happen? It is not so far fetched. Gilead mirrors Nazi Germany in the fact that government can alter society with the construction of new language and manipulation.
In order for a new government regime to come to power and take total control, they must manipulate the people. As seen in “A Handmaids Tale” as well as Nazi Germany, language is used to conceal a hidden agenda. New words are constructed to make things that would otherwise seem unpleasant, strangely appealing. For example, Blacks and Jews are targeted when they are given the names “Children of Ham” and “Sons of Jacob”. We see the term “Children of Ham being used when a newscaster makes reference to them and their resettlement. Racist ideologies of the nineteenth century often held that blacks descended from the biblical figure of Ham, who was cursed by his father, Noah, and made to be a servant of his brothers.This resettlement that is talked about brings to mind the forced resettlement during Hitlers reign, especially because in both instances the general public does not know what happens to these people after they are moved away. So even though each of these names (Sons of Jacob, Children of Ham) sound like respectable biblical terms, what it actually does is segregate them from the ret of society, ultimately making their persecution easier. They were targeted because they were deemed by the government to be inferior. This is similar to Hitlers reign, when homosexuals, Jews, blacks, and Gypsies were looked at to be racially inferior, and they they were ultimately subjected to death.
In Gilead we see that each woman’s true identity is removed from them and replaced with a more general name that groups them together and takes away their individuality. The whole motive for this new set of terms given to woman is to strictly give them one sole purpose to their life. Each woman was put on earth for one particular service to society, which takes away any other freedoms of life. The reason a lot of these woman are so willing to follow these laws is because it is much better than the alternative, which is being sent to the colonies. Just like in Nazi Germany, you would much rather follow the new order than be sent away to the concentration camps. In Gilead we see that an “Aunts” job is to hold command over other woman, keeping them in line. They are happy with their little bit of power they hold, so they do not question the basic human rights the government is denying them. For instance, and “Aunt” is definitely the lesser of two evils when put beside that of a “Jezebel”. A Jezebel is an old fashioned term for a woman who is regarded as...