Fear is power. Fear is ever-present in Gilead; it is implemented through violence and force. It is through fear that the regime controls the Gileadian society. There is no way Offred, or the other Handmaids can avoid it. The dead bodies hanging on the wall are a relentless reminder of what rebellion and conflict result in. The abuse of power is also present in chapter fifteen after Moira attempts to escape, she is taken to the old science lab and has her feet beaten with steel frayed wires and is then left on her bed, ‘’Moira lay on her bed as an example.’’ (pg. 102 ) She is an example of what rebellion results in. Therefore, creating fear in the other Handmaids to prevent them from rebelling.
Handmaids are also branded like cattle, a numerical tattoo on their ankle consisting of an eye and four digits; similar to the tattoos on Nazi prisoners, prevents them from escaping. Offred refers to it as, ‘’ A passport in reverse.’’ (pg. 75 ) this reference implies that there is no escape or leaving her situation, as a passport would allow a person to leave a country. Atwood uses this tattoo to display the society’s exploitation of power, and has been related to that of the cruel regime of Nazi Germany.
The Gilead regime uses language, particularly...
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...t create a feeling of disorientation towards the reader. Atwood does this to enable us to understand just how disjointed life is in Gilead. Offred continuously involves the reader, she directly addresses us and anticipates our response and even feels she has to justify some of her actions, she is a self-conscious narrator. Atwood is also preparing us for the revelation in the Historical notes that Offred is recounting her story into a tape recorder. The story is open ended; we are not told what exactly happened to Offred, Atwood does this in order to have more of an impact on the reader.
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaids Tale, (first pub. 1986) Publish by Vintage London 1996.
Sandra Langdon, The Handmaids Tale, Letts Explore for A level, (first pub.1998)
http://www.novelguide.com/TheHandmaid'sTale/essayquestions.html (accessed 11/10/2014)
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