Handmaids Tale vs Persepolis

Handmaids Tale vs Persepolis

David Miller Oppression on Women in Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis Marjane Satrapi, in Persepolis writes about a memoir of a little girl growing in Iran. She refers to a secular pre-revolutionary time through contrast, the oppressive characteristics of the fundamentalist government upon women in specifics. In comparison, her work is very similar to Margaret Atwood’s, A Handmaid’s Tale, in which the central character, Offred, reflects upon her former life’s freedom, cherishing her former name and in doing so, emphasizes the isolated and enslaved live that she must now endure.

Although Both Margaret Atwood and Marjane Satrapi show how a totalitarian state oppresses women in different ways by taking away the freedom to think and make decisions for oneself, also, how both accentuate on the ways a women should dress, which stratify society in Handmaid’s tale, and enforced religion in Persepolis. Because we as readers grew up in the western society, we often think of clothing as a means of expressing our individuality, our style, and as defining whom we are.

Offred grew in a similar environment, and that way of thinking was taken away once she became a Handmaid. That was the precise reason why she felt “ fascinated but also repelled” (28) at the same time when she saw the Japanese tourist. She says she “used to dress like that. That was freedom. Westernized they used to call it”(28). She says this because she no longer gets to dress like the tourists any more. In a very little amount of time, the society has forced every individual to change his or her mind about such clothes.

Whereas Satrapi depicts in her graphic novel a picture of a ten year old forced to wear a veil because of the Islamic Revolution, “ We didn’t really like the veil, especially since we didn’t understand why we had to”(3) explaining further the complexities surrounding the veil. She says some religious fundamentalist feels that hiding hair could keep the men from being aroused. Both Handmaid’s tale and Persepolis, the restriction on women’s clothing is taken to a whole new level of unfairness giving them no choice.

In Gilead everyone was supposed to dress alike depending on the social status they belonged to, masking their individuality, which was highly discouraged. This actually stripped the girls of their actual identities made them all look identical to their class. Similarly the veils impact on women’s life in Persepolis was enormous. She always wondered as to ‘why did the women have to wear it? ’ and the reasoning the fundamentalist gave was “so to protect women from all the potential rapist, they decreed that wearing the veil was obligatory” (74).

Satrapi says because of this backward thought process and the rules of the Islamic religion, women were forced to wear veil. However one would argue why wouldn’t these people deal with the rapist than have every women and every girl child were a veil. Although the main characters from both the books live under restrictions especially in their ways of dressing, both highly dislike what they are suppose to be wearing. The narrator in Handmaid’s Tale describes the out fit she is condemned to: “The skirt is ankle-length, full, gathered to a flat yoke that extends over the breasts, the sleeves are full.

The white wings too are prescribed issue; they are to keep us from seeing, but also being seen. I never looked good in red, its not my color”(8). This was the dress all the Handmaids were suppose to wear to make them look alike. The narrator rejects her clothes, even though she has to wear them, by saying red is “not [her] color. ” Their clothes both blind them to the outside world and keep them hidden from it. Similarly Satrapi feels the same about the headscarf/ veil, which are the exact reason why she rebels against the veil and the ideology that it represents.

Martha’s are made less by their clothes. When a woman is wearing the green “Martha’s dress” no one is interested in looking at her as a person. She is just a servant. Martha’s dress makes the woman serviceable not desirable, useful but undesirable. Pride and dignity is taken away from women in Gilead. They are isolated from their families and are tortured by their memories. They are handed a dress code depending on the role they play and are forced to abide by that. After Satrapi designs a new uniform for her school, she says, “this is how I recovered my self-esteem and my dignity.

For the first time in a long time, I was happy with myself” (298). Undeniably this dress code in both the books make women no longer an individual but an object for specific use, stripping them of their identities and giving them no choice. Oppression against women is evident when Satrapi points out during the lecture for “moral and religious conduct”, “why is it that I, as a women is expected to feel nothing when watching these men with their clothes sculpted on but they as men can get excited by two inches less of my head-scarf? (297). Obviously, religious modesty was enforced only on women. In Haindmaid’s Tale, women are divided into a small range of social categories, each one signified by a specific-color dress in a similar style: “[…] her usual Martha’s dress, which is dull green, like a surgeon’s gown of the time before. The dress is much like mine in shape, long and concealing, but with a bib apron over it and without the white wings and the veil. She puts on the veil to go outside, but nobody much cares who sees the face of a Martha. ”(9)