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Power In The Handmaid's Tale Essay

1712 words - 7 pages

Power in The Handmaid's Tale

As you read through the handmaid’s tale you see the relationships of the characters develop and the fight for power, however small that glimpse of power may be. The images of power can be seen through out the novel, but there are major parts that stand out to the reader from the aunt’s in the training centre to the secret meetings between the Commander and Offred.

The first we see of the struggles of power between people is when the novel opens and we first see the aunts of the red centre with their electric cattle prods and their stern moral teaching and their stern looks. The aunts are given small amounts of power by the male dominated regime, like the ability to carry the cattle prods but no other weapons.
"No guns though, even they could not be trusted with guns. Guns were for the guards…"
This extract shows the us that even the Aunts with there limited power can not carry guns as the regime will not trust them with that amount of responsibility or power due to their gender, it is even remarkable that the aunts are given the little power that they have considering how the regime feels about the role of the woman in their society. This little amount of power gives the aunts the feeling that the are superior to the other women in the society it also allows them to push their views and opinions onto the handmaids that they are also entrusted to look after by the regime which from what we see they do well and try and treat the handmaids like daughters that they will punish if the women disobey any of the rules of the regime. As seen by the way they treat Moria after her first attempt to escape from the red centre. The aunts are also very confident within them selves and the position that they hold within Gilead this can be seen in chapter 43 wear the salvaging happens and one the aunts is able to control
a whole group of handmaids at a blow of a whistle to kill someone. this is Atwood showing the power of the aunts at their most dangerous as they can control a group of people at blow of a whistle and therefore have total power over the handmaids and if they wanted to they may be able to turn on the male oppressors.
The next example of power within the regime is when we first meet Serena Joy at the front door of the Commanders house. Serena Joy displays her power by the way she looks at Offred when she arrives and then does not move aside to let Offred into the house. This is a display of power showing that this house is Serena Joy’s domain and everyone in the house must obey her and that she will not take any disobedience. Serena Joy is also able to beat her handmaid, but with out any implements, Offred tells us of how it is the wives right to beat the handmaids and yet if they kill or seriously injure them the wives can be put to death just as the handmaids or the other men can be; this can also be seen in the chapters on the salvaging as the first people who are executed are two handmaids for murdering...

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