The decision to write on this topic was greatly influenced by my fascination with The Handmaid’s Tale. In addition to thoroughly enjoying the experience of reading the novel itself, I also was enamored with the many issues a novel of this futuristic dystopian genre brought to my attention. In regards to my topic choice, I chose this topic because I found that as I was reading, there was much textual reference to education, not only in the past of Offred, but additionally in the many inter-textual references. For example, Gilead is set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the site of Harvard University which is constantly alluded to throughout the text. Although there is a conscious effort in Gilead to quell education and the acquisition of knowledge, education itself is an ever-permeating force. In addition to the setting, I would investigate further references to education throughout the text including the “re-education center/ Red center”. This juxtaposition between instilled knowledge and the color red as a motif is one that I would further examine in my paper. I have also found that different characters react to education in different ways, for example, Offred’s mother becomes a radical thinker while Serena Joy firmly cements her conservative viewpoints after she is indoctrinated into the society of Gilead.
1. If so many of the characters of the novel were highly educated individuals, how is it possible that they so fully embraced the ideals of Gilead when Gilead is formed on sub-alternation by the withholding of knowledge?
2. At what point does education become a character itself in the novel rather than simply a motif?
3. Do other factors influence the emphasis on knowledge/education in the book? i.e. specific character traits, experiences, etc.