Methods Of Control In The Handmaid's Tale By Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, is a story told about the Republic of Gilead, a dystopian society ruled by a Christian oligarchy with extreme policies. The society is based on the oppression of women by enforcing strict social classes, and instilling in them the sole purpose of reproduction. A woman of the Handmaid class named Offred narrates the story in first person. She recounts the duties and daily life of being a Handmaid: the class of women who live with a husband and wife only to provide them with a child to raise with the values and morals of the new Christian government. For such an oppressive society to function smoothly, there must be rigid methods of control in place. Government forces in The Handmaid’s Tale by …show more content…
In the days leading up to the revolution, the new government slowly gains power by limiting the rights of women in the country. Women can no longer use their own credit cards; the man in the house is given authority over money. Soon after, it is announced that women can no longer hold jobs or earn an income. Every restriction is made under the guise that women are unsafe out in the world. The aunts teach the women that they are cloistered only for their protection: “We were a society dying, said Aunt Lydia, of too much choice. (25)” The government decides that in order to subdue the women, they have to remove their power to fight back. Offred remembers learning at the re-education center: “Knowing was a temptation. What you don’t know won’t tempt you, Aunt Lydia used to say” (195). This thought process describes the ultimate way to quell a person’s power: remove access to education. The new schooling system only teaches women how to fulfill their role in society. Offred’s worth, much like the other handmaids, is measured only by her ability to produce a child: “… he said a forbidden word. Sterile. There is no such thing as a sterile man anymore… There …show more content…
Professor Pieixoto explains that the small ruling group knows in order to subdue the population, they have to make some feel like they are gaining power in the process: “… to institute and effective totalitarian system 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 (308).” If the government allows a small group, like the Commanders or Angels, to feel powerful in the social castes, these groups will be more willing to submit to their roles and enforce the lower classes to do so as well. Jezebels is a perfect example of the government giving a little in return for all they have taken. This leniency causes the Commanders to become absorbed with the miniscule amount of power they have: “Perhaps he 's reached that state of intoxication which power is said to inspire, the state in which you believe you are indispensable and can therefore do anything ( ).” The higher social classes become content with having some control over those below them, so they overlook the fact that they have lost the majority of their own freedoms as well. They are focused on the scramble to grab any power they can find, whether they agree with these values or not: “… there were many women willing to serve as Aunts, either because of a genuine belief in

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