Which Literary Theory Gave Me the Most Insight?

downloadI think that the literary theory that gave me the most insight for Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” was the feminist theory. I felt that the feminist theory was very applicable to this novel because the main character is about a women is who is treated as an object and is oppressed in many ways. This theory allowed me to think deeply about the text and make connections to other texts, my own experiences, and the world as well. I was able to reflect on modern day society and think about the injustices that women still face today because in the past, I read countless stories in the media about girls who were taken advantaged of or raped due to their sexuality. As a feminist myself, I was able to apply this theory really well to understand the novel from a feminist perspective. The novel also dealt with a lot of universal feminist topics such as gender inequality, patriarchal societies and oppression of females, and thus, the novel was very relatable to the world and other texts. In fact, Atwood made many references to other texts such as the Bible’s Book of Genesis, in which the story of the failure of a woman to bear children is mentioned, as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” where Hester Prynne, essentially a mistress, had to wear a shameful red A like how the “handmaids” have to wear a red dress. From the feminist perspective, I was able to draw the conclusion that Atwood thoroughly explored these feminist topics in the novel through the creation of Gilead, a society where there is a lack of freedom and power for women, as well as characters such as Offred, a seemingly submissive women who rebels with small acts, and Moira, a foil to Offred and an outwardly rebellious women who later had to submit to Gilead’s regime. I was also able to look at each of the female’s thoughts such as how freedom was relative and that there were different ways to freedom such as suicide, freedom to express, freedom to think, freedom to speak and freedom from sexual insults. Atwood wanted readers to sympathize and understand oppressed females such as Offred through quotes like “I want her back. I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting” (Atwood 141). I was able to analyze all these characters and perspectives through the feminist theory because the novel dealt with so many of these topics and themes. Overall, I was able to draw conclusions really well and developed a solid understanding of the novel’s main themes through this theory, making it the literary theory that gave me the most insight. 


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