Passivity In The Handmaids Tale

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Within every literary work there lies a resounding truth which perfectly displays the dangers of a broken world or society. In her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood uses different ideas in her novel to convey how passivity in a broken society has detrimental effects for everyone. Throughout the novel, it is displayed that in such a dystopian society, nothing can progress in the right direction if nobody has the courage to defy the system. Through Atwood’s context given throughout her text, her stance on passivity is clearly shown as one that urges others to stand and fight instead of becoming submissive to a fragmented society. Only then can there be hope to restore the future. In the story, Atwood uses individuality,…show more content…
Possession is human nature; to have possession over something is to be living. Unfortunately, almost all personal effects have been taken away by the Gilead government. In order to keep everyone under control, nobody, especially those in a lower class, are supposed to have anything. The lower classes, such as the Handmaids and Marthas, have the worst of it, as they endanger their own lives if they are found with any worldly possessions. It seems the only belongings are the ones they find in the little things of life, both tangible and intangible. For instance, Offred finds joy in the pillow in her room with the faint word ‘faith’ on it. She also remarks on how important it is to keep your rationality even when all else has been taken, saying, “sanity is a valuable possession” (Atwood ). With sanity, it is then easier to attain and keep knowledge that is essential to surviving and maintaining sanity. In the Handmaid’s Tale, Offred is the keeper of not only her sanity, but also of knowledge that has long since been expunged, thus keeping her faith alive, even through the fears in her life, as she is (as cited in Vox Media, Inc. 2015) “A paranoid, in this case, is just a woman in possession of all the facts.” . This shows how even in a doomed world, it is imperative that one keeps what little they have, not…show more content…
Within Gilead there is an authority that is much higher than is necessary or healthy for any nation. With such power comes corruption, which then spreads throughout the whole of society, slowly obliterating the nation’s people. This corruption of a powerful government can only be controlled by the force of the people which, in the Handmaid’s tale, is nearly non-existent, thus giving the militant Eyes – as well as the rest of the Gilead government – a stronger hold on the people by their indifference. The Eyes especially have an intimidating vigor which holds down the people by means of threat of punishment, in addition to the allusion of freedom to keep the people pacified. As stated in the novel, “A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.” (Atwood 165). This shows how the government keeps ultimate control over the nation by way of intimidation, allusion, and roles in society. Status and class is vital in Gilead, showing the world who one is by their uniform, speaking louder than any voice. Of course, Gilead has given these roles in the society as another way to control the people, but due to their passivity, everyone decides to go along with it, never questioning the power of this supposed republic. This goes to illustrate just how corrupt a government can be if not frequently checked by its
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