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Essay on the Religious Right and The Handmaid’s Tale

The Religious Right and The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is set in the near future in the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States. A religious extremist right-wing movement assassinated the president and congress and took complete control of the government. The constitution was suspended and liberties revoked. Women found themselves completely subordinated in the new regime, generally assigned to the legal care of a male “guardian.”

Offred, the main character of the story, was fortunate in many ways. Because she was still fertile, she was not branded an “Unwoman” and sent to the “Colonies,” where thousands of individuals deemed undesirable by the government were sent to toil in toxic plants and agricultural camps. Instead, her fate was to become a “handmaid.” Birthrates were declining in the republic, so a fertile female became a prized commodity. Since Offred had been divorced prior to the revolution, the religious leaders controlling the government saw fit to take her from her second husband and child and assign her to a “guardian,” a high ranking male. Her sole purpose in life with the guardian was to become pregnant. Once a month an insemination ceremony would take place, during which the guardian would attempt to impregnate Offred while his wife read passages from the bible to them. All three remained clothed and there was no passion involved.

In the course of her life as a handmaid, Offred discovers more about Gilead. Her secondary duty (after getting pregnant) was to go into town each day and purchase food. She gradually makes contact with another handmaid, Ofglen, who introduces her to the underground movement against the republic. She eventually becomes involved in a number of illegal activities, and eventually is forced to try and escape.

The Handmaid’s Tale is really about the role of women in society. If it were possible to eliminate women from Gilead, it seems that the republic would have done so. Instead, they are reduced into doing the one thing for which Gilead can find no substitute — producing children. They are so reduced that they cannot even feel passion or enjoy sex. Infertile women have it even worse; they are not considered to be women at all, and are deported or killed. The message is that women are needed to continue humanity but that they are to have no other role in the society that they allow to exist.

Public Schools and Education – It’s Time for Education Reform

It’s Time for Education Reform

My sentence is still being carried out and, as such, I am still gathering much damning evidence on the topic. Hopefully I will be able to compose a meaningful — perhaps even persuasive — critique of the system. There is quite a bit of bureaucracy and conformity to overcome.

The education system is profoundly skewed and this is the second time I have experienced its most significant problem: placement and grading. Most educators place too much value on inflexible systems for identifying proper places for students and estimate their comprehension of the material; there are many factors that may aid or hinder a student’s performance on such tests. Yet, even excusing poor test score(s) is not my main intention.

Throughout most of my education I felt extreme boredom and “excelled” at all “academic studies” (as ill-defined as they were), which made me rather excited about the prospect of going to college early. I thought the MASMC, focusing on (personal) and academic challenges, should provide the extra stimulation and opportunity to let me “soar.” I have come to understand the harsher conformity of lower level courses.

In highschool I had precalculus (which actually ended with limits!) and chemistry, and I considered my entrance to calculus and (advanced/secondary) chemistry in college almost guaranteed. I found out about placement tests the night before actually taking them (the best I can remember) but still felt confident after having completed them. I found out little before actually going to the academy that I would be placed back in precalculus and chemistry one. After talking with a few “authorities” I discovered there was one other test I could take. Without even looking at the C I received on the first precalculus (mostly algebra and some trig) test, I took another one. Again, I received a C and felt rather bad.

I talked with Dr. Malm to figure out what I did wrong. After looking over the test, I felt somewhat worse: the errors I made were not due to a real lack of understanding, rather they were “stupid errors” from lack of attention, sleepiness, and some misinterpretation. I was assured that the college precalculus course would “fill the holes” of my precalculus education. I doubted it, and was correct: I learned, effectively, nothing in precalculus while spending hours (and taxpayers’ money) listening to the same material and doing homework (unnecessary — I didn’t last year and by not doing homework I did not hurt my placement test score).

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