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International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences
Volume 49


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The Study of Ideology in The Handmaids’ Tale Based on Althusser’s View

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Ideology has always been the most vital apparatus for each government and dominant groups of society to keep their superior position so that every inferior subject could remain obedient and live like a programmed machine that is required to operate according to some fixed and rigid codes. Sometimes these codes are so apparent and tangible in the society that breaking them would result in sheer oppression such as impressment, exile and even execution. However in modern era the controlling and domination are not applied through force and physical attempts yet it does not mean it ceased to exist. The traditional ways of oppression are not extinct; yet they remain in new forms, tools and weapons which in Althusser’s terminology they are called RSA. Nevertheless there is another difference in modern time; it has been attempted to control the minds of people through other less vivid weapons. These weapons could poison the minds of subjects and control and train them in a way that dominant groups want without taking any violent action. This method of controlling mind is ISA in Althusser’s view. The handmaid’s tale (1988) mostly concerns with the ideology of ruling class and the way the ruling class shows the ideology to subjects by force and discourse shapes the way through which suppressed class perceives the world. The main character of this novel who is a woman is oppressed in different ways and her identity and believes are influenced by the ideology of the society consciously and unconsciously. Since the story takes place in Gilead as one small part of the world, it could be symbol of other societies and the analysis of that society can be extended to other parts of the world so this is a microcosmic study.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 49)
M. Moradi and F. AzizMohammadi, "The Study of Ideology in The Handmaids’ Tale Based on Althusser’s View", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 49, pp. 75-82, 2015
Online since:
Mar 2015

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