The Handmaid's Tale Tolitarism

Topics: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood, Arthur C. Clarke Award Pages: 2 (721 words) Published: March 24, 2012
As the architects of Gilead knew, to institute an effective tolitarian sytem or indeed any system at all you must offer some benefits and freedoms, at least to a privileged few, in return for those you remove.

In a tolitarian state, Atwood suggests, that people would endure oppression willingly as long as they could receive some slight amount of power or freedom. If any substantial power is taken from people, they will find a way to maintain control over themselves and other individuals. One of the most important themes in 'The Handmaid's Tale' is the presence and manipulation of power. Offred remembers her mother saying that it is “truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.” Offred's complacency after she begins her affair with Nick shows the truth of her mother's words. Being a handmaid restricts her compared to the freedom she had in the pre-Gilead times, but her relationship with Nick allows her to gain the tiniest fragment of her former life. The physical affection and companionship become compensation that make her restrictions amost bearable. After Offred began her affair with Nick, she didn't find the need to escape anymore and she became “beyond caring” about wether she got caught or not because she thinks that she is living a normal life with Nick; “I no longer want to leave, escape”. “In this house we all envy each other something” even though none of the women have any freedom, they still find something to envy from one another and to feel jealous about. For example, Serena Joy envies Offred for being able to give birth to a child, and Rita envies Offred for being able to go out and do the shopping. The handmaids don't have any freedom, they aren't even allowed to talk and Offred says “such freedom now seems almost weightless” but the regime tries to make people think that they have some freedom. For example, when Offred flirts with the guardians because she wants have some control over something; “I enjoy...
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