Dystopia Context

The Handmaid's Tale Context

Historical Context-

  • Atwood has said that her research on 17th century American Puritans, who created a rigid and inhumane theocracy based on a few choice selections from the Bible, influenced Gilead.
  • But the novel also responds to the modern political scene in America: the religious right, with its moralising tendencies, was gaining power in America as backlash to left wing Free Love and feminist movement.
  • In the 1970s, Jerry Falwell and other Christian leaders urged the Republican Party to bring prayer back to schools, diminish abortion rights and defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, which was meant to support women.
  • THT shows how religion can be used as an excuse to reduce women's rights, a political tendency which continues to occur all over the world.
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1984 Context

Historical Context-

  • Orwell was a socialist, a direct result of his service in the military on the Rebulican side against the Fascist general Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
  • When he returned to the UK, Orwell joined the British Independent Labour Party and began to write against the Nazi regime and Stalinism.
  • Anarchist critics of Soviet communism and the Marxist writings of Leon Trotsky (exiled communist revolutionary and model for Emmanuel Goldstein) influenced Orwell.
  • In 1946 Orwell wrote "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it".
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