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Numerous writers have used a narrative form to convey their predictions of the future, they criticise their current society by asking questions based on their contextual values and concerns. The main purpose of these dystopian worlds is to warn audiences about the path the writer thinks their current society is travelling on. Through the use of narrative conventions, a writer can project their concerns in a relatable and imaginative way. The audience can then use the platform of familiar characters and settings to relate to this speculated world. This is exactly what happens in “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “V for Vendetta”. In the “Handmaid’s Tale”, the controlling government of Gilead oppresses women, politically and religiously manipulating them, and submitting all women to sexual slavery. “V for Vendetta” also responds to the rise of Christian Conservatism in the UK during the 1980’s, with their system embodying typical Christian conservative opinions. Therefore both texts adopting elements of context to warn its audience about the future, based on current issues.
Feminism is a major issue in The Handmaid’s Tale. When asked Atwood, she states it was not to be looked from a feminist perspective but instead was based off her own observations. This statement implies there was gender inequality during the 1980’s. In this text women are presented as properties of men. Everything has been confiscated from their belongings such as rights, freedoms, identities and even being forced their own bodies. The men own the womens’ bodies as they are abused, turned into prostitutes and been illustrated as sex objects through pornography. It is clearly evident throughout the story that the handmaids are subjected to forced sex in order to fulfill the commanders wishes as it conceives children. On the other hand, the women were deceived into believing what they were doing was quite frankly normal.
Throughout the whole novel, Atwood has demonstrated the use of characterisation to show the lack of identity women are prone to in the dystopian society. We could suggest that this is how Atwood feels about her own identity and is fearful of people in the future could be stripped of their identities. Characterisation has also been effective in V for Vendetta as it helps reinforce the dystopian society. It allows the audience to see the characters perspective on their society, enhancing the audiences’ perspectives on the society shown. Characterisation also allows the audience to relate to the characters. Due to this, the audience believes that the future presented in the film could possibly their own futures.
Atwood also incorporates historical allusions and parallels when describing the society of Gilead. Offred describes one documentary she watched “The one I remember… was with a woman who had been the mistress of a man who has supervised one of the camps where they put the Jews…”. This quote is implied to be referred as The Holocaust where the Concentration camps hold many similarities to the Red Center. V for Vendetta also alludes back to many historic events, some of the most important being the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot which is significantly important to English History. ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November; gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.’ The fifth of November commemorates the failed attempt of Guy Fawkes to blow up the British Houses of Parliament and kill all the political leaders and the King at the state opening in 1605. V blew up the Old Bailey as it symbolised ultimate justice for the government. Through V’s eyes, there was no justice at all whatsoever. So he decides to blow up the Old Bailey as he sees the government as people who have taken justice away from the people so why should such an iconic symbol exist. V also quotes, “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” This quote is suggesting that a government who is not concerned with serving the public can easily become tyrannical. The general consensus should guide the government in its choices, not the other way around. The public should have the ability to place representatives in power, and also remove them from power if the position is abused and this serves us a warning for future political governments.
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