- Term Papers and Free Essays

Handmaid's Tale

Essay by   •  November 3, 2010  •  1,153 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,003 Views

Essay Preview: Handmaid's Tale

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

The central social hierarchy within the novel is the gender hierarchy, placing men in a position of extreme power. This is evident in every aspect of the book, as the entire Gilead society is male dominated. The Commander is at the top of the hierarchy and is involved with designing and establishing the current society taking control of a nation of women, and exploiting their power by controlling what is taught, what they can teach themselves and the words that they can use. Soon all of the women will become brainwashed, simply because it is made nearly impossible to defy the rules

The Eye is the next highest up and are used as spies to keep the society the way it is and make sure no one consorts against it. Angel's are next because they are men so they are higher then all women. Their job is to make sure they are all safe and basically the police force. Men are the only ones who may drive cars, own property, have bank accounts, work, or even read from the Bible or any other text.

The next highest up is the commander's wife. She has writes and privileges about all other women. Aunt's are responsible for getting the handmaids ready for their society. They pound the ideas of the new culture into the handmaid's head so that when they enter it seems normal.

Handmaids are the next class, they are the only women who can reproduce they are forced to have children for upper class couples women are often compromised by a forced sexual nature, thereby allowing them to be blamed for problems of conception. Handmaids show which Commander owns them by adopting their Commanders' names, such as Fred, and preceding them with "Of." I.e. Offred is one of these unfortunate servants who are only right to exist depends on her ovaries productivity. She lives with her commander and his wife in a highly supervised centre. All female characters in the text are only mentioned in relationship to a male owner of some sort. We find out about how women are treated as walking wombs when the Ð''Red Centre' also known as the Rachel and Leah Centre. As the basis of the novel it is replicated many times throughout the book, it is found in the family reading before the monthly ceremonies, and in Rachel's plea give me children, or else I die. This really puts emphasis on the threat to the Handmaids life. By failing to produce a child, they will be classed as Unwomen and sent to the Colonies to die.

Next are Martha's or domestic servant, in the Commander's household. After the Martha's comes the econowives the wives of the lowest men in the book they are not fertile there for are of no use to the Gilead society sterility symbolic of all evils and failings within Gileadean society. Unwoman are last because no one wants them and they are outcasts.

In the handmaid's tale the government has given the lead character and presumably all the other character a pill that makes them forget their past. In the case of the main character its effectiveness was not 100 percent and she remembers scraps of her previous life n her dreams. In her dreams she remember's how they took her daughter away and how she loves her husband. Offred has no clue to his whereabouts or even if he's alive.

The agents of control in offreds life start with the aunts in training the handmaid's. the role is to mold the handmaid's into their society, to make them presume that everything is the norm and not to desire more. Secondly is the eye. They are the thought in the backs of peoples minds that makes them follow the rules. No one knows quite who they are and can never be sure who to trust. This is the perfect way to control people without a constant presence.

I think Gilead is thought of as a theocracy it is a government in which there is no separation between state and religion. Its official vocabulary



Download as:   txt (6.2 Kb)   pdf (108.6 Kb)   docx (11 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 11). Handmaid's Tale. Retrieved 11, 2010, from's-Tale/7564.html

"Handmaid's Tale" 11 2010. 2010. 11 2010 <'s-Tale/7564.html>.

"Handmaid's Tale.", 11 2010. Web. 11 2010. <'s-Tale/7564.html>.

"Handmaid's Tale." 11, 2010. Accessed 11, 2010.'s-Tale/7564.html.