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Human Rights for Women in The Handmaid's Tale

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In the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, although the women don’t have human rights, they have much power than one could think. Toward the ending of the novel, in chapter forty-three, during the salvaging, Aunt Lydia pulls an unexpected announcement where she says that there will be a Particicution where the Handmaids should form a circle and the rest will watch. They are instructs they can do whatever they want to do to the man. The man is a rapist and rape two handmaids, one woman is pregnant, and her baby die. The Handmaids are trick that the Guardian is a rapist where the man is part of the people who are against the new law of Gilead. However, the handmaids believe in the story with what Aunt Lydia says. This scene reveals how their authority is manipulative in Gilead.

 The Handmaids do not want to hurt the man and give sympathy for the man due to his bruises all over his face, yet they start to beat him up when he tries to deny his actions. Janine walks in front of them with blood all over her body and seems to lose her sanity. This reaction of Janine shows rebellion since the Handmaids are victims of unwanted sex and men forceful desires. The rage they feel is evidence of suppressing hate towards men. There is a sense that the higher authority uses to express their rage to keep the handmaids manage at other times.

In this novel, individuals with power use it to manipulate others through their fears. Throughout the novel, evidence of effective brainwashing is when Offred continuously remember Aunt Lydia’s opinion and sayings about the rules and consequences of in their new lifestyle. In chapter forty-three, it shows that Aunt Lydia serves as the voice of the Handmaids. During Offred’s flashback, Aunt Lydia uses body language to show her role in the Women’s Centre. Aunt Lydia intimidates the Handmaids through clasping her hands and wringing them together, which reveals her qualities as a manipulator. Aside from the fact that the Aunts teaches the handmaids the values of their new society, they also own the handmaids due to the power to sentence anyone to death. However, manipulation does not only show in Aunt Lydia, but Offred also possesses it. Offred likes taking small pleasure from people who have higher power over her — for instance, making eye contact with the guardian, which is strictly forbidden. She uses her body to tease the men sexually, which gives her a feeling of rebellion. 

Though Offred appears to be a helpless sex slave who is being controlled by the government, she sneakily uses her sexuality to gain power and control over the commanders home. As the commander falls very lustful over Offred, she uses this to her advantage to manipulate him into getting her things that are restrictive to have by handmaids, taking her to places that are against the law for someone in her class. The women in Gilead are severely depriving but still find ways to control people and posses power.

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Human Rights For Women In The Handmaid’s Tale. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Human Rights For Women In The Handmaid’s Tale.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022,
Human Rights For Women In The Handmaid’s Tale. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
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