Ustopian Analysis of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

  • Gurroop Cheema
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  • Gurroop Cheema

    Student at OP Jindal Global University, India.

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The terms ‘Utopia’ and ‘Dystopia’ are essentially deemed contradictory to each other. However, on a close reading, both these terms are not entirely antithetical to each other, so much so that they are even complementary to each other. In fact, both the terms are so intrinsically linked that without existence and understanding of the term ‘Utopia’, the term “dystopia’ will be rendered meaningless, and the same is true vice-versa. The paper aims to explore the seemingly close relationship between the two concepts with reference to Margaret Atwood’s novel, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Atwood herself has coined the term ‘utopia’ and designated the genre to her novels as well. The Handmaid’s Tale is one such novel that combines both the aspects of a utopian as well as a dystopian society. The novel elucidates various experiences wherein the readers can detect a utopian element within the dystopia that the novel essentially illustrates. The paper also explores the structure of a dystopian novel and how rebellion is an essential part of it. Rebellion is what bridges the distance between a dystopian and a utopian society as resistance to the dystopian society pave the way for a utopian society. Rebels, like the protagonist of the novel, are thus the carriers of utopia in dystopian societies. Language is another key element and a subjective tool that helps escape a dystopian society. The paper also tackles the various critiques that this relationship between utopia and dystopia is constantly subject to. Lastly, the paper explores past and future utopias in the novel and how these are a sense of hope for the present dystopia


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 1, Page 51 - 59


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