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In the handmaids tale the government of Gilead changes the handmaids names, in the hope that they will be able to change their identities and get the people to forget everything about their former selves and life’s such as their life partners, children and parents causing the people to then start losing their sense of individuality becoming more robot like rather than humans focusing solely on their given tasks of being vessels for procreation. However, many people including the protagonist still remember their names but due to to the fear of getting caught by the secret police of the government do not dare to utter it and rather just try to console themselves – “My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it’s forbidden.
I tell myself it doesn’t matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others but what I tell you is wrong, it does matter.” Atwood also very cleverly creates these new names to hint on the commanders ownership of these handmaids as for example Offreds name breaks into ‘of’ and ‘fred’, the name of her Commander.
Just by having names like this the governments are able to always remind the handmaids of their place in society and imply the idea that they do not have the right to be free individuals as they are now commodities owned by the commanders.
In Brave New World, the World States society is divided into four different castes the Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons the outcasts, with Alpha being at the top and Epsilons being at the bottom.
This is similar to the society hierarchy shown in the series Divergent where each person was divided into a different group such as erudite or dauntless according to their jobs with erudite the scientific and technological class being the most important. To further imbed these classes into the people minds, they played chants like this “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read and write. I am so glad I am a Beta” for each different group (this is for Beta children) about 40 or 50 times a day to children which were being created in the laboratories to ensure that most were as identical as possible to each other, so that everyone could have the same mentality and way of thinking that the government wanted to instil, ensuring peace and stability.
The lack of the formation of meaningful relationships is also a major aspect explored in both the novels. In the handmaids tale the handmaids do not have the freedom to choose who to be in a relationship with as their commander is already predetermined by the government. However even with the Commander they are forbidden to have a meaningful relationship, as they are only there to be their vessel for obtaining children – “There’s something dead about it, something deserted.” This statement by Offred shows us how governments were easily able to kill the purity and emotional attachment to the act of having sex by making it seem like a chore. However in Brave New World, unlike Handmaids Tale people do not believe in monogamy as they are conditioned in laboratories since birth to treat sex lightly with no strings attached. In the World States people are able to talk about their individual sexual encounters freely without ever causing uncomfortable situations, an example of this is shown in the conversation between Henry Foster and the Assistant Predestinator “Lenina Crowne?’ said Henry Foster, echoing the Assistant Predestinator’s question as he zipped up his trousers. ‘Oh, she’s a splendid girl. Wonderfully pneumatic. I’m surprised you haven’t had her.’ ‘I can’t think how it is I haven’t,’ said the Assistant Predestinator. ‘I certainly will. At the first opportunity.” Here the government is able to cheapen sex as something just done for pleasure and recreation, with people they have no feelings for, to ensure stability.
Overall we can see that both these novels are very similar to each other as they both portray governments who are willing to sacrifice their peoples freedom, individuality, happiness to achieve stability in their own worlds. Both the authors implement the idea of dystopia through conflicts and then further enhance it through the characters losing their identities, lack of relationships and more just to achieve a so called “equilibrium”. And even though their ways of control, values and moral instilled in people are different they all work their way towards the same path – Stability achieved through sacrifices of basic human rights.
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