This video discusses Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, set in a negative utopia in which women have no control over the government or their lives. Why does the narrator have no name? Life is tough under a totalitarian government that doesn’t see women as human beings.
|Author||Atwood - Margaret Atwood|
Women and Femininity
I’m on every page, and I get all the good lines.
So, not that I’m complaining, but… why in heavens don’t I get a name?
Why do I have to be just the “narrator” or “the handmaid?”
Is that all I am to you, Margaret? My first instinct tells me that she left me
nameless because she wanted the reader to… be me.
In other words, she was hoping they’d step into my shoes…
…while filling in their own name…
…making all of my trials and tribulations seem more personal.
If I were given my own name, it might have kept readers at a slight distance…
…because then I would have just been… some woman all this stuff happened to.
Or perhaps I didn’t get a name because Margaret didn’t want me to represent just one person.
Although the book tells an individual story…
…it could be that she wanted me to symbolize women everywhere who are oppressed, discarded
…so that I’m sort of the poster child for… gender equality.
Yeah, I know… I’m too old to be a poster child. Poster “woman,” then. Sounds more
Hold on though… maybe Margaret was just trying to do to me… what the men in her
book were doing to women.
In her world… and, okay, in my world… men treat women as complete inferiors.
To them, women are basically… love-making, baby-producing machines.
Lucky for the men, most of us are pretty low-maintenance. But you get the sense that the men don’t
even look at us as people.
They just look at us like one vast, collective group of kid incubators.
And if we’re not people… then we don’t need names.
I’m not sure of Margaret’s reason for leaving me nameless…
…but I’m sure she had a good one.
Was it to allow the reader to step into my shoes?
To use me as a symbol to represent women everywhere?
Or to show how callous and cruel the men in her negative utopia really are?
I don’t know about you, but I’m leaning toward that last one.
But then… I naturally have a bias against the… unfairer sex.