Authority In The Handmaid's Tale

796 Words 4 Pages
Throughout history, all of the world's governments have used authority to ensure or at least try to make their country run properly. Whether it be police watching the streets, armies putting down rebellions, or even secret police spying and taking out people, one way or another the government always tries to maintain power of its citizens to make sure nobody is doing anything that would harm the state. This idea of power of authority is shown in these three works, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Panopticism by Michel Foucault and “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti. In The Handmaid’s Tale it was the constant fear of being watched by the Eye and the masters, being viewed by a person standing in a watchtower from Panopticism, or even …show more content…
The main point of this was to show how “Inspection functions ceaselessly. The gaze is alert everywhere: ‘A considerable body of militia, commanded by good officers and men of substance’, guards at the gates, at the town hall and in every quarter to ensure the prompt obedience of the people and the most absolute authority of the magistrates.” (Foucault 1) Very similar to what was described by the Narrator in The Handmaid’s Tale, figures of authority are placed everywhere to let people know that they have to obey or there will be major consequences for them. Another example of this is Bentham’s Panopticon, in which there is a tall tower that has windows all around and it is surrounded by “peripheric buildings” which are divided into cells. With this layout, all that is needed is one person to stand in the tower to keep watch over everyone in the cells since the people in the cells are all singled out now and no one knows if they are being watched over or not. “Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic function of power.” (Foucault 3) Very similar to the eye, the citizens or prisoners know that there is a figure watching, but they are not sure where and

Related Documents