The Importance Of Rules In The Handmaid's Tale

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Bruno Bettelheim once said, “Punishment may make us obey the orders we are given, but at best it will only teach an obedience to authority, not a self-control which enhances our self-respect.” More often than not, those surrounded by rules feel pressured to adhere to them due to the fear of repercussions. Even so, it is not guaranteed people will comply. Sometimes, being bound by rules can only make one feel rebellious. This proves to be true in Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction novel, The Handmaid 's Tale. Through characterization, flashbacks, and point of view, Atwood demonstrates how strict rules lead to the temptation for defiance, despite the possible consequences. In the novel, the majority of the characters seem to acknowledge the strict laws of Gilead, while still not fully obeying them. Though breaking these laws leads to cruel ramifications (e.g. hanging, exile, etc.), it does not stop members of the society from breaking these said rules. In chapter 23, Offred goes to see the Commander in his room alone one night. “My presence here is illegal. It is forbidden for us to be alone with the Commanders” (Atwood, 136). Offred is aware of the fact that this request is unlawful, yet she still ponders on it. Just as well, the Commander calls her to his room which shows that even sitting in a position as high as his, the…show more content…
This is exhibited by the fact that most of the characters disobey the laws of Gilead one way or another. The flashbacks in the novel demonstrate how strict laws are a leading cause of defiance. The narrator’s point of view shows her gradual disregard for the law that progresses over the course of the book. While many may think that forming strict laws is a way to get people to adhere and act accordingly, Atwood proves otherwise in the situations depicted in The Handmaid’s
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