Totalitarianism’s Role in the Handmaid’s Tale

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Set in the near future, Gilead is a failed attempt at creating a utopia. After the present day United States of America fell, Gilead arose from the ashes. Centered around the idea of repopulating the human population that was decimated by pollution and nuclear waste, the society seemed like a beacon of hope in a desolate world. People accepted the new society without much resistance only to later realize that they had been duped. The founders of Gilead took conservative ideas and implemented them to the extreme. Women’s rights are taken away. Reading is forbidden. Handmaids are introduced to bear children. The government takes over and a dystopia is born. They control almost every aspect of the people’s lives, down to the food that they…show more content…
They lived to have meaningless sex so eventually they got bored. Well the men did, not the women. They could not afford to get bored because even though they were valued, they had no rights. They had no say in whether or not they even wanted to have kids. “the right to motherhood is a matter of women’s right to choose whether or not they wish to become mothers in the face of a civil recognition that women’s bodies make them potentially mothers” (Martin 32). The men that controlled society ignored the fact that a woman’s body is her own and she may do as she pleases with it. This ignorance spread to the women too, as seen by Offred who embraced the child bearing ideology. This ignorance by both genders shows how isolated they were. With no other opposing ideas and the opponents or rule breakers being sent to the colonies, Gilead thrived with a single minded idealogy that all the ignorant people followed to some extent. Even though the totalitarian government of Gilead tried to control the people, they still rebelled in their own small ways. Many of Atwood’s characters rebelled but not against the government. Instead they broke the rules for their own desires. Serena Joy occasionally smoked a cigarette that was bought off the black market. Sometimes there is even music in the house that is, “the thin sound of Serena’s voice” (Atwood 55). Serena misses her former life even though she claims to support the ideologies of Gilead. But she is not the

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