Language's influence on control and rebellion in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale: Language as a means of power Ronja Thiede Author
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Seminar paper from the year 2018 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,3, Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, language: English, abstract: Overall, Atwood utilized Gilead's oppressive manipulation of language in The Handmaid's Tale to reveal the hierarchical dynamics of power in the theocratic state. Therefore, it is vital to determine in how far Gilead's discourse is used to maintain the existing power structures, but also whether, and if so, in how far it is used to offer resistance against the state's rigid hierarchy. Therefore, it will first be analyzed what Gilead's social structure looks like, before the highly original thoughts of Pierre Bourdieu on the relations among language, power and politics will be introduced to facilitate a real understanding of the correlation of language and power. After that, a closer look at the concrete content of the novel and particular text passages will give an insight into how the Gileadean power structures are maintained through the use of language. Following this, it will then be analyzed how language also enables Gilead's opponents, in general, but mainly, the novel's first-person narrator Offred, in particular, to offer resistance. Therefore, it will first be described how the coexistence of two discourses can be a threat to the system, before it will be dealt with Offred's main means of resistance: her storytelling.


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