The Chain Of Command In Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaids Tale'

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Gilead’s True Commanders: The Handmaids Despite the many ways to interpret Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, there’s no denying that the chain of command in Gilead can seem quite fluid when it comes to who is in control (and who has the more at stake). Though the handmaids seem like they should be most afraid, it is actually the Commanders who have more reasons to be fearful, and the handmaids who have genuine power. If all handmaids realized their capabilities, mutinies like that of Mayday would be even more successful. Fearing and trying to prevent a rebellion, the Commanders make unsupervised interactions with anyone nearly impossible, remove anything that could be used in suicide attempts, and limit all access to reading materials. Try as they might, their tactics are of no use when in comes to the more resourceful handmaids and wives who are able to use their influence to bend the rules made by the superior men. Offred’s first meetings with the Commander demonstrate her ability to communicate with others in order to have what she wants. Although Offred is nervous during her first encounter with the Commander alone, she eventually grows more comfortable with playing Scrabble and reading magazines with him. It doesn’t take long for her to feel secure enough to make her own requests, as she states, “On the third night I asked him for some hand lotion, I didn’t want to sound begging, but I wanted what I could get” (158). Offred’s interactions with her Commander are

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