Totalitarianism In Power In Gilead

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Now that Gilead has been established, any and all written words are forbidden to women. The government gets rid of even the most harmless lettering of a state controlled store in the hopes that women will eventually be unable to read. Gilead’s women will only rely on the pictographic signs to know what their shopping tasks are. In practice, eventually this could become the way of life, but Offred is not a product of the time she is in, she is forced into this lifestyle. On the second night she visits her Commander’s study, he offers her “a women’s magazine…the fall fashions,” which surprises Offred as she “thought such magazines had all been destroyed.” This is highly subversive material even though these magazines are commonplace in reader’s …show more content…
Arendt writes, in Origins of Totalitarianism: “Totalitarianism in power uses the state administration for its long-range goal of world conquest…it establishes the secret police as the executors and guardians of its domestic experiment in constantly transforming reality into fiction.” The reality that totalitarianism destroys is it’s citizens understanding of how life functions, e.g. what is correct and incorrect behavior. Through the creation of their own rules, the secret police furthers the ideology of the states. This is especially prescient in relation to the Eyes in Gilead. The Eyes function as undercover police in Gilead. They can be any man of any rank. You can’t truly know who is or is not one. “He [Nick,] takes a final puff of the cigarette, lets it drop to the driveway, and steps on it. He begins to whistle. Then he winks…Perhaps it was a test, to see what I would do. Perhaps he is an Eye.” Offred does not trust this gesture of kindness from Nick, the Guardian, an dual officer servant position, assigned to her commander. A simple wink is suspicious. He is smoking, cigarettes being only available on the black market, but this does not preclude him from being suspect. Offred cannot trust anyone because anyone can report her for being a subversive, but especially the men in Gilead. Most people let things slide: Cora & Offred in heap, Commander believes he is above law decides …show more content…
Gilead is a precursor to One State, whose system works on self-reporting from all civilians. The members of the Bureau of Guardians both function as normal ciphers (as we see S-4711, a Guardian, walking with other ciphers during the lunchtime Personal Hour) and as a secret police force. While One State has this police force, the state does not need to rely on them to catch subversive ciphers. Civilian self reporting is heavily used as the citizens of One State can all see each other at all times due to the building being made completely of glass and are morally trained to report anything abnormal. As Arendt describes it, “Mutual suspicion, therefore, permeates all social relationships in totalitarian countries and creates an all-pervasive atmosphere even outside the special purview of the secret police.” Everyone participates in “mutual suspicion” because they suspect everyone is suspicious of them. D-503 witnesses illegal behavior from I-330 and tells her: “Do you know, as an honest cipher, I am obliged, in theory, to report you immediately to the Bureau of Guardians and…” D-503 knows immediately that what I-330 has done is not acceptable to the state and should report her. However, his loyalty has also been broken by his confusion of feelings for her. This instance shows that emotion was not fully erased from the ciphers’ minds. He knows what “in theory” he should do, but does not because of his

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