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Locating lost masculinities in Margaret Atwood’s the handmaid’s tale

Needham, Maria Sian (2015) Locating lost masculinities in Margaret Atwood’s the handmaid’s tale. Masters by Research thesis (MA), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a prophetic, fearfully realistic portrayal of a dystopian future in which women are forced to live in a patriarchal theocracy, Republic of Gilead. It is a fictional amalgamation of every fear of the feminist movement, as such there exists an abundance of critical work focused on the disenfranchised narrator of the tale, coupled with an exploration into the rights of woman, and how female authorship lends insight into this. This focus has given rise to a gap in critical work upon Atwood; the neglect of the critical consideration of her masculine characters, their presentation, and their function within the text as stand-alone characters. By focusing upon the masculine characters, this thesis begins to create a critical discussion upon their function outside of an oppressive back-drop for the female. This thesis demonstrates that by exploring the masculine power present in the novel, as rendered through the male characters, critical understanding of the feminine is advanced, and so a balanced, comprehensive mastery of the text is promoted.

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