In Margaret Atwoods ‘The Handmaids Tale’, we hear of one women’s posting ‘Offred’ in the Republic of Gilead. A society based around Biblical philosophies as a way to validate inhumane state practises. In a society of declining birth rates, fertile women are chosen to become Handmaids, walking incubators, whose role in life is to reproduce for barren wives of commanders. Older women, gay men, and barren Handmaids are sent to the colonies to clean toxic waste.
Fear is power. Fear is ever-present in Gilead; it is implemented through violence and force. It is through fear that the regime controls the Gileadian society. There is no way Offred, or the other Handmaids can avoid it. The dead bodies hanging on the wall are a relentless reminder of what rebellion and conflict result in. The abuse of power is also present in chapter fifteen after Moira attempts to escape, she is taken to the old science lab and has her feet beaten with steel frayed wires and is then left on her bed ‘’Moira lay on her bed as an example.’’ (pg. 102 ) She is an example of what rebellion results in. Therefore, creating fear in the other Handmaids.
The Handmaids are treated like cattle, aunts use cattle prods to gain power and assert authority over the Handmaids. Aunts have so much power over them, that they are able to control them at a blow of a whistle to kill someone in the mass salvaging’s. The salvaging’s are another a way to provoke fear in order to gain more power over the Handmaids. Handmaids are branded like cattle, a numerical tattoo on their ankle comprising of an eye and four digits; prevents them from escaping. Offred refers to it as ‘’ A passport in reverse.’’ (pg. 75 ) this reference implies that there is no escape or leaving her situation, as a passport would allow a person to leave a country.
The Gilead regime uses language, particularly Biblical language to solidify its power. Language has a strong influence in moulding how people think, and it is fully abused by the rulers of Gilead, for example, the phrase ‘’give me children or else I die.’’ (pg. 99 ) gave the republic of Gilead the idea to use handmaids to bear children for barren wives. Bible readings and prayers before the ceremony, ‘’god hath given me hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband.’’(pg101 ) Is another example the regime justifies its actions and the role of the handmaid, to disguise what is actually taking place.
Offred's memories are a way for her to escape a society riddled with hopelessness. The...