When in. Finding personal escapes to our lives

When we are teenagers, the thing we crave the most is independence from our parents. We view being adults as having our own sense of freedom and the ability to do whatever we want. There will always be a certain amount of control others have upon us, but there are always loopholes to the situations we are in. Finding personal escapes to our lives is something we all do. When the time does come to be an adult, our freedom is limited by the government. The government is necessary to impose a certain amount of power and control on its citizens to prevent an anarchy but how much power is too much power?  In the novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale” there is a constant theme of control and power in the oppressive society of Gilead. The government enforces control through military control, fear such as the Wall, and manipulation. The wall is meant to serve as a reminder for those who try to break the rules of Gilead. Offred describes the purpose of the Wall when she states, “We stop, together as if on signal and stand and look at the bodies. It doesn’t matter if we look. We’re supposed to look: this is what they are there for, hanging on the Wall. Sometimes they’ll be there for days, until there’s a new batch, so as many people as possible will have the chance to see them” (40). Offred says that the wall is out on display for people to look. It reminds them of the harsh punishments that are coming for the people who do not want to obey the rules of Gilead. After Offred has seen the horrors of the wall,  Aunt Lydia explains to Offred “Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.” (33) Gilead has so much power over its citizens, it manipulates them into thinking public handing is the just thing to do when a person has committed a crime. Aunt Lydia has become desensitized to the immense amount of brainwash Gilead has installed in her brain. In some ways, Aunt Lydia reminds me of real life situations such as Milgram Experiment we learned in class. When people are placed in situations where an authoritative figure is telling you what to do constantly, many people follow without question no matter how unethical there actions might be. They become desensitized like Aunt Lydia has become to the horrific actions they either pursue or watch on a daily basis. Handmaids are manipulated by the Aunts, which in Gilead are the most powerful women. The Patriarchal society allows the Commanders to have complete control of the citizens, while the Commander’s Wives hold the power in the household. The Handmaids have little to no power because they are considered a lower class in Gilead. Their main purpose is to reproduce to continue the society. Even Offred’s real name is not to be said because she now belongs to her commander Fred. “My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it’s forbidden. I tell myself it doesn’t matter, your name is like your telephone number, useful only to others; but what I tell myself is wrong, it does matter” (84). Offred tries to let her past self go and accept that her name has no meaning, but she can not truly devote herself to that thought. Offred’s freedom is so limited that she  is not allowed to use simple everyday life products such as lotion so instead she uses butter.


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