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Parallelism is an act of harmonizing two sides of a book or an essay. In this article, parallelism is going to be evident throughout between the book 'The Handmaid's Tale', and propaganda and censorship. The bone of contention is to bring out feminism as witnessed in the book and how it links to real life history. Margaret Atwood is the woman behind the novel 'The Handmaid's Tale'. As a Canadian, she first brought this book into publicity in 1986. She uses imaginative female characters to expose problems that women underwent when theocratic soldiers (Atwood 13) held the United States at ransom upon the removal of the existing authority. The book revolves around one Offred who is the main character with the author using such terms as 'handmaid', 'angel' among others in a symbolic way to communicate her thematic concerns in political and social aspect. On the other hand, censorship is an act of limiting the free flow of knowledge. Throughout the 20th century, the restriction has ebbed and flowed in all aspects of American life, from the federal government to the courts to the entertainment industry. Balancing the right to free speech and free expression with the perceived good of the community remains one of the most contentious issues in American society.
Feminism is an act of protecting rights of women in all aspects. It tends to advocate for the matching of power between men and women. As a feminist, the author begins by showing how women are put on hold and not allowed to interact. They are heavily guarded by soldiers and are allowed to talk but only in low tones. Offred is quick to note that slowly by slowly the society is going back to the old traditions (Atwood 23). They are embracing the theocratic system where the authority is incorporated with the religion in question. People are subjected to only one denomination and the Gilead society borrows a lot from the biblical background. This clearly shows how the rights of women are denied like freedom of speech. In a similar manner, the federal government in most has cases denied citizens the freedom of speech, press, and national security. During times of national crisis, when wars or other major calamities grip the nation, Congress and the president have often suspended the constitutional rights of Americans, particularly the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression. In this case, women have fallen victims of the tyrannical government. This is still being seen in our society today where women are not acknowledged and therefore have no place in society.
In this book, the author writes on some of the ancient laws, which hit the society so badly. For instance, the guards are not allowed to have sex or even admire women. They have to seek an approval of the state to get themselves wives (Atwood 35). The young security personnel are deprived of their rights and the authority forbids any association with something likely to suggest. Offred observes that they hope against hope to turn into angels and probably that's the only way they can secure fiancées (Atwood 37). This incident shows how the authority has reduced human beings to objects with no feelings. Addressing the federal government on such behaviors, William observed that, any test that turns on what is unpleasant to the community's standards is too loose, too capricious, and too destructive of freedom of expression to be squared with the First Amendment. Under that test, juries can censor, suppress, and punish what they don't like, provided the matter relates to 'sexual impurity' or has a tendency 'to excite lustful thoughts.' This is community censorship in one of its worst forms. It creates a regime where in the battle between the literati and the Philistines, the Philistines are certain to win (Dissenting opinion, Roth v. United States, 1957). The freedom of interaction between men and women is a thing of the past in the Gilead society. The guards as observed by Offred are sexually starved and one can tell by just looking at them.
William observed that we are apt to be very pert at censuring others, where we will not endure advice our selves. He continues to say that, nothing shrews our weakness more than to be so sharp-sighted at spying other men's faults, and so purblind about our own (Some Fruits of Solitude, 1693). In the book, Serena was always against the rights of fellow women but she never saw the caution of doing all that (Lemke 102). Her life is a total nightmare later when she realizes that this also affects her badly as the husband does not have time for her. If only she could have heeded to the caution, things would have been different (Lemke 103). Being the wife of the commander in Gilead society, she was always on the forefront pinpointing the weaknesses of other women yet so blind at her own.
Whenever a person's right to speech or press, for example, comes into conflict with the constitutional rights of others, the courts have the legal authority to attempt to balance these rights. This scenario has been faced by the courts several times because the American political system guarantees so many rights to its citizens that people frequently trample on the rights of others when exercising their own freedom. For example, the rights of minors and the duty of the state to protect them often take precedence over the right to the freedom of speech and freedom of the press exercised by an individual. Likewise, in the novel the injustices meted on the women in the contemporary society come with a heavy price to pay. It in most cases lead to loneliness and one lives like a malignant beast in total isolation. Being a concubine of the commander, Offred is not allowed to meet with her comrades and people close to her (Foster 55). She is controlled like a puppet on a string and this result to her recalling all that had happened to her in the past. This kind of torture led to a woman snatching her daughter as she was in dire need of having a child she can call her own. In this episode, the commander tramples on the rights of Offred and other women to interact this is in a bid to satisfy his own needs (Lemke 105).
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In most cases, however, community censorship has been expanded to unprecedented heights. The contemporary trend of oppressing women in Gilead society seems to have a very big impact on them. Offred at any given time keeps remembering her daughter, her biological mother, her husband and a long time friend. Although the images of her mum keep appearing quite often in her mind, it clearly indicates that she is in dire need of a family (Foster 78). The recalling of her child is symbolic of somebody who would like to have a child. The images of her husband; Luke, is a clearly indication that she misses romance. Finally, the remembering of her long time friend shows somebody who would like to have a friend she can trust and share her secrets with. This is used by the author to show that, in a society where women are not allowed to be themselves, it completely changes their lives to something bad (Foster 88). Similarly, following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, Philadelphia mayor James Tate declared a state of emergency that prohibited, among other things, the gathering of more than 12 people in any public place. Several people were subsequently arrested as they peacefully picketed and exercised other First Amendment rights. Both state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld these convictions. In another important case establishing the legality of this form of censorship, a man was convicted of giving a speech inciting people to disobey a court order mandating desegregation, an act that might have caused a riot.
Moral censorship is clearly seen in Gilead theocratic system. People are not supposed to be seen with phonographic literature or involve themselves in sexually immoral behavior. The priest and two guards are hanged when they are found to have involved themselves in sodomy and in possession of phonographic materials (Foster 34). This censorship does not seem to be practiced. This is clearly seen through the confession made by Janice. She fall a victim of rape when she is only fourteen years of age. This can be as a result of sexual deprivation that many are undergoing in Gilead. The commander does not seem to pay attention to that yet she is practicing those immoral behaviors (Atwood 24) .Likewise, moral censorship is perhaps the most pervasive form of censorship in the United States because cultural values are at stake. This form of limiting information is unique in that moral censorship does not entail any claim that the thought, word, or deed will harm national security, disturb public order, or incite violence and anarchy. Rather, moral censorship continues because groups of people feel that some forms of speech offend others. While more conservative Americans bristle at the supposed indecency of pornography, music lyrics, and birth control literature, liberal groups despise the use of Indian images as mascots and the prevalence of sexually demeaning images on the Internet. Thus, moral censorship cuts across cultural and political boundaries in complex ways.
To conclude, I will base my argument on what Clare said. She deduced that, censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but, unlike charity, it should end there (March 1967). This has not been the case in many instances of this text. For example, Janice recalls how back at home when she was only fourteen years of age, she was gang raped. She is surprised that this is not likely to end any time soon as the same is being meted on women in Gilead society. The commander forces women to sleep with them against their will. Their body is no longer a source of pleasure and they no longer feel like women (Foster, 132). To these women their homes have remained the worst nightmare.
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