The Importance Of Punishment In The Handmaid's Tale

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What used to be the present, always becomes the past. In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a government has completely reformed itself in order to achieve contentment. The government that was in place instantaneously becomes concealed in the past. Established public policies, customs, and ceremonies take complete control over the society; brainwashing the citizens of Gilead is obtained throughout those procedures. Even though the past “used to be different,” it does not take long for the distressed citizens to lose “the taste for freedom” (Attwood 114, 133). Re-educated, they come to trust that the government has attained a way to achieve the better good for mankind. Women quickly find that “better never means better for everyone... It…show more content…
Punishment means death for both men and women, though each defiant woman can also be claimed as an ‘unwoman’ and sent to the colonies. Those who are sent to the colonies are forced to clean areas that have been infected with radioactive waste. Under horrendous living conditions and extreme labor, the unpeople that live there do not last long. Being sent to the colonies is considered a fate worse than death. Both death and the colonies are great ultimatums, upheld by the government, that are used to keep people obedient or in other words--…show more content…
To deal with the desolation that he feels, he illegally seeks out to meet with Offred, his handmaid. They make “ an arrangement. It’s not the first such arrangement in history, though the shape it’s taken is not the usual one”(Attwood 154). The Commander puts their lives immediately in danger after the first time he asks Offred to join him in his room. She is not the first handmaid that the Commander has outreached to, and she soon realizes why his previous handmaid hung herself. He justifies his illegal desires with an excuse that he simply wants Offred’s life more bearable to her. She realizes that “the Commander exists in a different realm altogether (a realm of duty, obligation; a realm in which love does not exist)” and does not realize how miserable Offred really is (Miner 154). He does not offer her love in return for everything that she has lost, but he does allow her small physical freedoms like reading and lotion. The things that Offred wants, seem ridiculous to the Commander which “wasn’t the first time he gave evidence of being truly ignorant of the real conditions” that handmaids live under (Attwood 159). What he does not want to admit is that he needs Offred’s company as much as she needs his. The Commander uses Offred as someone to relax
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