The Idea Of Dystopian Worlds In Gattaca And The Handmaid’s Tale

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In Gattaca and The Handmaid’s Tale, both texts explore the idea of dystopian worlds and how they can cause negative impacts to society and lead to oppression. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the community is highly influenced by a social hierarchy, which is used to oppress many people into thinking their world of old fashioned discrimination against women is an ideal society. The idea of inequalities is also used in Gattaca, however instead of just begin based off gender, anyone without the ‘perfect genes’ are discriminated against. Both ideas portray a highly negative reality and warn the audience that the topic of both the Handmaid’s tale and Gattaca could easily become real and that some plot points are already happening in today’s society.

The authors show the audience that inequality has a very negative impact on people. Both authors discuss how a factor such as environmental change and technological change can affect society and shows the audience how quickly that can change the mindsets of the majority of people and create a dystopian world.

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In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood writes about infertility and environmental change. The women in this book are without a question considered below the men, which is something that is not improved throughout the book, even the main character doesn’t consider this a big problem, as she continuously portrays her mother who is a firm feminist as quite annoying. Offred states ‘i don’t want to live my life on her terms’, making it clear that she doesn’t have as strong beliefs her mother does when in comes to equality between genders. Similarly in Gattaca, the theme of discrimination is shown through genetics. Vincent was born without any genetic moderations, even though the technology for it was available. He is known as a ‘faith birth’ or more commonly ‘INVALD’. Throughout the movie this is clearly shown to have had a negative impact on his life because he is unable to get the job he has always wanted and would be qualified to have if his genes were considered ideal, instead his only option is to get a job as a cleaner.

The same as what’s shown in the Handmaid’s Tale, genetic discrimination in Gattaca seems to have unquestionably fallen into a part of their reality whether it is considered a positive thing or not.

Throughout the Handmaid’s Tale and Gattaca, symbolism is used to represent character traits and themes.

One of the main symbols in Gattaca are the names of the characters. The most obvious one is shown by Jeromes middle name, Eugene, a clear symbol to the word ‘eugenics’. Eugenics is basically seeking to change or improve the population using controlled and artificial breeding. Which basically defines Jerome’s life. Vincent’s name is less obvious, however the name Vincent is taken from the Latin word ‘Vincentius’ which means to conquer. This symbolises Vincent’s success despite not being ‘guaranteed at birth’. Colour is also used frequently in Gattaca. The film constantly uses the colour grey to represent the dull aspects and machines to the dystopian future and the lack of diversity that has been created by the technology. The colour yellow is also used to illustrate Vincent’s past. The colour yellow takes over every shot depicting Vincent as a child as a way to represent the limitations of his ‘invalid genes’. Colour is also evidently used in the handmaids’ tale by the clothes the women wear. The Handmaids wear the colour red, indicating their fertility by resembling the colour of mensural blood. In contrast to this, the wives wear blue to symbolise Virgin Mary. Another symbol that can be seen in The Handmaid’s tale is the match the Serena Joy allows Offred to have. Although she doesn’t do anything with it, because Offred has little to no control over her life, having the match represents choice as she lists off all the things she could do with it such as smoking or burning the house down.

Margaret Atwood and Andrew Nicoll show the audience how a society can be suppressed in to thinking they live in a perfect world through totalitarian control and the social hierarchy. This can be seen in the Handmaid’s Tale through the control of the government and nearly all of the male characters who convince the women that a conservative world is best. There are also similarities between the Handmaid’s Tale and modern society such as women’s rights and politics. Which warns the audience that our society could easily be lead down a dystopian path. It is also shown in Gattaca, because Vincent is unable to get a good job because of his genetics. This is also shown in Gattaca where a perfect world is created by genetic engineering. Both texts show society that hoped to create a utopia but had the wrong idea of how to get there.


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