Handmaid's Tale - Manipulation of Power Essay

1257 Words Mar 4th, 2011 6 Pages
THE HANDMAID’S TALE
Grade 11 English Analytical Essay

Words: 1 245
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a disturbing novel that displays the presence and manipulation of power. This is displayed throughout the novel and is represented significantly in three ways. As the book takes place in the republic of Gilead, the elite in society are placed above every other individual who are not included in their level. Secondly, men are placed at the top of the chain and they significantly overpower women in the society (elite or not). Finally the individuals within the elite society also overpower each other and have their own separate roles. This can be interpreted as a chain. Men of the elite are placed at the top, the men who less elite
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These were the ‘unwomen’ and the gender traitors. For example, in the novel, it was stated that ‘there are three new bodies on the Wall’ (the ‘Wall’ was referred to where the freshly executed bodies were displayed). Two out of the three ‘have purple placards hung around their necks [that read] Gender Treachery… [not to mention that] their bodies [were] still [dressed in] the Guardians’ uniform’ [pg 53]. As this routine continues the cycle is kept running in order to keep the elite society ‘pure’. Therefore, those who are considered as ‘contaminating’ the elites must be eliminated.

Secondly, as stated before the men in the elite society are placed higher than all women. Despite being classified into different groups, women seemed to be placed at the bottom as they are once again stripped from their own independence and rights. This is shown in the book as the women are reassigned to their former jobs as tools for reproduction, cleaning and cooking. They are categorized through their duties and they all serve the men of the elite society, particularly the commander. Thus in creating this arrangement, women are completely inferior to men and have almost no power over them. However, in some cases it is different. For example, Serena Joy who is the wife of a commander has a higher status than someone like Nick, the commander’s chauffer or one of the
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