There Is Power In The Handmaid's

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What difference can an individual make against society? According to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the answer is not that much. Set in the Republic of Gilead, the characters all suffer under the totalitarian regime, and the few who actively try to change the system fail in the end. Even though Offred, the protagonist, periodically contemplates the inalienable types of an individual’s power, the actions throughout the novel indicate that such powers are negligible; because of this, The Handmaid’s Tale ultimately suggests that an individual is powerless to their environment. The most significant and potent form of power and thereby control in the strictly regulated state of Gilead is knowledge. In a society where the illiteracy of women …show more content…

Offred specifically notes the compulsion most women feel to forgive a man’s transgressions, and this socialized impulse to condone one group’s actions over another is a method of manipulation used by the state. Throughout The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred asks for forgiveness from both Luke, her presumably dead husband, and the reader, and she also offers some sympathy towards her oppressors, namely Serena Joy and the Commander. Offred realizes that even the high-ranking Commander himself is an “unknowing victim of the society he has helped create, robbed of his choices in the process of robbing other of theirs” (Feuer 86). In this case, everyone, including the Commander, becomes a victim of the society he or she helped to create. Though Offred contemplates that forgiveness could be the greatest power, it holds no meaning to those who do not think they have do anything wrong or think they are above reproach. Ultimately, the act of forgiving on an individual level makes little difference when society already demands that forgiveness be granted or …show more content…

However, the next generation will be complacent because “[t]hey’ll have always been in white, in groups of girls; they’ll always have been silent” (Atwood 219). For example, Offred’s own daughter is believed to have forgotten about her and accepted her new life as a daughter of some Commander. This erasure of memory is an effective, long-term strategy of the regime to maintain control over its population. However, Offred also seems to be disheartened by past as she “cannot find any reassurance in her memory; she has been trapped all long, even from before the novel begins” (Nakamura 14). As evidenced by her monologues regarding the threats of pre-Gilead society, Offred has always felt helpless against the power of men, so the past is of little comfort when it closely mirrors that of the present in the worst ways

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