Passivity In Handmaid's Tale

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In the book A Handmaid’s Tale passivity is a common theme throughout Offred’s journey as a handmaid. In this context, passivity is allowing others to do things to you without complaining or pushing back to protect oneself and to keep oneself safe from harm or cruel treatment. There are several instances in which Offred is forced to be passive in order to please the people who have Offreds life in their hands. In the position that Offred is in as a handmaid, she is expected to do as her commander and the wife of her commander instructs her to do, and if she does not comply to these orders, no matter how unusual or unfair, she faces severe punishment or even death in the worst of cases. Just like Offred there are several other women who are forced to call Gilead home that must be passive in order to stay alive. So, generally speaking, the people of Gilead are so passive about the way that they are treated because this is the only way for them to continue to survive. Offreds passivity is something that is touched on several times throughout the novel, but she does not just learn this skill on her own, but is taught by a woman named Aunt Lydia. “Aunt Lydia said it was best not to speak unless they asked you a direct question. Try to think of it from their point of view she said, her hands clasped and wrung together, her nervous pleading smile. It isn’t easy for them.” (Pg. 14) Here, Aunt …show more content…

One of these tasks is something called the ‘ceremony’ which is the time in which the handmaids are used for their purpose of attempting to reproduce and carry a child. “I do not say making love, because this is not what he's doing. Copulating too would be inaccurate, because it would imply two people and only one is involved. Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on here that I haven't signed up for. There wasn't a lot of choice but there was some, and this is what I chose.” (Pg.

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