Marxism - Sam Lee

I will be analyzing this passage from a Marxist lens, which looks at how economic and social classes determine who holds the power. In the "Historical Notes" passage from Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, we are told the reasons for the infertility crisis that society is facing, as well as how the Gilead regime took over.

Offred begins by describing how the Gilead regime created a "wave of women recruited for reproductive purposes and allotted to those who both required such services and could lay claim to them through their position in the elite" (pg 377). We can see how the women are being treated like a product in demand, being collected and sold to the highest bidders. Of course, the highest bidders are none other than the rich and elite, who get this privilege because of their social class. The lower classes are all but ignored, as they don't have the means or power to acquire a handmaid. She says that the children of these women were confiscated and "adopted by childless couples of the upper echelon" (pg 377). She then tells us that "Men highly placed within the regime were thus able to pick and choose among women" (pg 378). We can see that in this society, like many others, power meant everything. And since money is power, everything was decided by the people who were financially well off. In a time where children were rare, these powerful men were allowed to adopt children when lower social classes were not. They were also allowed to pick a handmaid, while the general public had no such opportunity. Since reproduction is the biological purpose of life, these men were allowed to "fulfill their purpose", a great honor, while poorer men had no way of producing offspring.
When Offred is describing the infertility issue that the world is facing, it is evident that social class played a role in the problem. First off, she says "some of the failure to reproduce can undoubtedly be traced back to the widespread availability of birth control" (pg 378). Birth control is obviously not free, and so only the financially secure could purchase this product, which could have led to the infertility of many higher class citizens. Sexually transmitted diseases also played a big role in infertility, and medical care for these diseases was only provided to those who could afford it, which may have led to many lower class citizens also becoming infertile.
Offred also mentions "“artificial insemination,” “fertility clinics,” and the use of “surrogate mothers,”" (pg 378), and how they "outlawed the first two as irreligious but legitimized and enforced the third" (pg 378). This Gilead regime has enough power in this society to outlaw whatever it wants and create any laws they would like. This is undoubtedly because they have the highest social class within the society, so therefore they have the most power. A marxist lens shows us the struggles of living within social classes. The lower class is not allowed the same power and freedoms and the higher class, while the higher class uses this power to in turn take advantage of the lower class, creating a never ending cycle. We can see this in Handmaid\d Tale, as only the rich can have children, who will also be rich, thus continuing the cycle. The social classes play a big part in determining someone's life, and unsually, where you're born is probably where you'll stay.

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