Abuse of Power in the Handmaids Tale

Topics: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood, Republic of Gilead Pages: 3 (1160 words) Published: August 18, 2013
Within the totalitarian society created by Margaret Atwood in the Handmaid’s Tale, there are many people and regimes centred around and reliant on the manipulation of power. The laws that are in place in the republic of Gilead are designed and implemented so as to control and restrict the rights and freedom of its inhabitants. In the republic of Gilead, there are many rules and restrictions within all levels of the community, wives, econowives, common men and handmaid’s included, which limit the goings-on of the people. These rules were all created by the men in charge, going by the name of ‘The sons of Jacob’ and are forcefully implemented by the angels, the male soldiers and ‘protectors’. The roles of those in charge all belong to a select number of men, strengthening the notion that these few have complete and utter control over the ‘lesser’ people. The suppression of the people and the lax restrictions applying to the leaders of Gilead, as well as the roles within the community, enforce the idea of a dictatorial hierarchy. The hierarchal aspects of the society are presented by contrasting the accessibility of resources between that of the commanders in charge to that of the handmaids. The limited amount of objects that the handmaids had on offer are in stark comparison to those the commanders, often hypocritically, had in their possession. In the novel, it is implied that the commander to whom Offred ‘belonged’ was high up Gilead’s social ladder in terms of political and influential stature. Despite his word and opinion presumably being a driving force in the formation of Gilead, he had in his possession many objects, such as magazines and lingerie, declared forbidden since the establishment of Gilead’s regime. This shows that the commander (and we can assume some of his fellows) have gained power and enforced stringent rules, only to disregard them when they do not suit their wishes. This calm indifference towards the law, if voiced or acted upon by any...
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