Restricted movement is displayed throughout the entire novel. On “Birth day”, Offred exclaims “on this day we can do anything we want”. As The Handmaid’s Tale is written in a first person narrative, the reader is able to relate to Offred and share her thoughts and feelings. The reader feels a sense of happiness for Offred as she finally receives some form of freedom. Atwood also helps the reader to glimpse at the most important aspects of Gilead through this chapter.”Birth day” is placed in the middle of the novel. This was done to show that the Handmaids and the entire Gileadean society are based on conceiving and giving birth and to allow women to “..
.fulfil their biological destinies in peace”. However Offred then goes on to say “I revise that: within limits” All sense of freedom is lost when Offred says this, as it shows that she never had any freedom.
Offred’s imprisonment is also shown through the types of nouns Atwood uses. Whilst on her shopping trip Offred describes her surroundings. Atwood’s use of words, such as “barbed wire” “searchlights” and “hooks” illustrate the kind of world Offred is living in; she is constantly surrounded by objects which make it practically impossible for her to resist the rules Gilead have imposed upon her.Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-four is also restricted; however it is in quite a different manner. Winston is able to leave his home, attend work etc, whereas Offred must not even leave her room unless “summoned”. However, both characters are still experiencing restricted movement.
Winston experiences such rules when he visits places which “Party members were supposed not to go.” There are no laws against going wherever a person wants, however if a party member went somewhere solely for pleasure, it would be regarded as suspicious. This is evident when Winston enters Mr Charringtons shop; he comprehends that it was a “suicidal impulse” that led him to enter the shop, because if he was caught he would most definitely be denounced to the thought police.Oppression also appears in the form of dress. Both novels have a strict and specific dress code according to an individual’s status in society. Gilead is very much based on a hierarchy and therefore Atwood explores uniform in The Handmaid’s Tale by allocating characters of different positions, with different colours.
“…dull green of the marthas…
stripped dresses, red and blue and green and cheap and skimpy” Not only does this show that colour symbolises status, but it shows that quality of dress also shows status, as the “econowives”, who are seen as very low in society, dress in “cheap and skimpy” clothes.The striped dresses also symbolise the fact that “econowives” must do everything themselves. They have a mixture of all the colours in their dress, “…red and blue and green”, therefore implying that they must do the work of the Marthas and Handmaids.
“These women are not divided into functions. They have to do everything” This contradicts the values of Gilead as they claim to be a state where everyone is equal and where eventually nobody will “..
.want things they can’t have.” However, here they are showing discrimination to the people of a lower class. As for the Handmaids, Atwood may have chosen a red colour of dress in order to symbolise birth and fertility, which is their main function in the novel.
George Orwell also explores uniform in Nineteen Eighty-four. Similar to The Handmaid’s Tale, uniform also symbolises status. Nineteen Eighty-four is also based on a hierarchy. Characters in different positions wear different colours to symbolise their status. Winston must wear “blue overalls which were the uniform of the party” while O’Brien wears the “black overalls of an inner party member.” Julia, Winston’s secret lover, also wears “blue overalls” however she also wears “A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League” around her waist.The junior anti-sex league is one of the many committees set up by Big Brother in order to control its subjects.
“Processions, meetings, military parades, lectures, waxworks…
” are just some of the many events party members indulge in, in order to express their love and devotion to Big Brother. Julia also encourages Winston to enrol for events such as “munition-work” to show his dedication to the party. Julia believed that by enrolling in such events “It paid…it was camouflage”, therefore it is highly unlikely anyone will ever suspect such a zealous party member as secretly disobeying Big Brother. Phillip Pullman, one of the many critics of Orwell’s novel suggests: “.
..if they don’t stand up and wave a flag and shout slogans, they’re invisible, and hence suspect” 1Restricted speech is also common throughout The Handmaid’s Tale. Characters in this novel must follow a strict and certain criterion. When attending shopping trips, Offred and Ofglen must speak using certain terminology such as “praise be” and “blessed be the fruit”.
Not only do these phrases show restricted speech but they also inform the reader about Gileadean societies. By using phrases such as “praise be” the reader is aware that Gilead is a (Christian) theocracy, where phrases from the Bible are used in everyday life and speech. Restricted speech also appears on Birth day, where Handmaid’s are trained to repeat specific terms as a fellow a Handmaid is giving birth. “Breathe, breathe.
..hold, hold. Expel, expel” are chanted repeatedly. This chanting also shows loss of identity as all handmaids are now seen as one and the same person.Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four also examines the theme of restricted speech. Although Winston speaks in “Oldspeak” which is Standard English, “Newspeak” will soon become the official language of Oceania.
“Newspeak” has been devised in order to restrict speech as well as thought. The process of creating newspeak involves destroying hundreds of words. “…
the whole aim of newspeak is to narrow the range of thought” this is in order to make “Thoughtcrime” impossible. Thought-crime was “the essential crime that contained all others in itself”. Not only has all freedom been stripped from him, but now Big Brother is aiming to control all manners of thought processes as well. As Margaret Atwood says of Nineteen Eighty-four: “…the rulers of Airstrip One wish to make it literally impossible for people to think straight.”