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Volume 19, Number 1 (1994)

Subject-Position as Victim-Position in The Handmaid's Tale

  • Jamie Dopp
May 22, 2008


Jamie Dopp uses Judith Newton's description of feminist patriarchal constructions of history to argue that Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale offers a 'tragic' view of gender relations in which the oppression of women by men is seen as unchanging, universal and monolithically imposed. The text does not offer the reader a position of active resistance to patriarchy; the reader is unable to maintain critical distance from Offred and shares her fatalistic passivity and victim position. The novel reproduces the essentialist tendencies of the patriarchy it seeks to undermine; as a dystopian tale, it creates a world in which there is no longer a possibility of resistance.