Gender Role In The Handmaid's Tale

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In The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, there is an apparent power struggle between Offred and the Commander. The Gilead Society’s structure is based off of order and command. This is what creates a divide between genders and specifies gender roles in this novel. Without this categorization of the roles and expectations of women, the society would fall apart at the base. Thus, the Commander, being the dominant gender set forth by the society, has control over Offred. Offred is consistently cautious when it comes to interacting with the Commander. She feels as though she has to present herself in a way that will allow her to gain his trust and utilize it in her favor. Offred says, “The Commander likes it when I distinguish myself, show precocity, like an attentive pet, prick-eared and eager to perform” (Atwood 183). When Offred poses herself in the way that the Commander expects, it shows how his power influences Offred’s actions. The connection of Offred to that of “an attentive pet” also shows how the Gilead Society has taken away her humanity. Without her humanity, Offred loses her sense of self-worth which leaves her vulnerable to the Commander’s power. Along with this constant fear of portraying herself in a manner that would upset the Commander, Offred is also afraid to give away too much information about herself which could potentially end with the Commander ceasing their private meetings together. Offred expresses, “And if I talk to him I’ll say something wrong, give something away. I can feel it coming, a…show more content…
Offred, among other women depicted in this novel, tries to overcome this dominion. In her own way, she attempts to do this by ensuring the Commander’s expectations of her behavior which could result in her freedom. Thus, there is a present power struggle between the Commander and Offred throughout The Handmaid’s
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