Handmaid's Tale - Manipulation of Power Essay

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Pages: 6

Grade 11 English Analytical Essay

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Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a disturbing novel that displays the presence and manipulation of power. This is displayed throughout the novel and is represented significantly in three ways. As the book takes place in the republic of Gilead, the elite in society are placed above every other individual who are not included in their level. Secondly, men are placed at the top of the chain and they significantly overpower women in the society (elite or not). Finally the individuals within the elite society also overpower each other and have their own separate roles. This can be interpreted as a chain. Men of the elite are placed at the top, the men who less elite
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But yet, the novel also indicates that each individual, women or men has power over other individuals within the elite society and the ‘undesirables’ including men and women.

The novel addresses specific people with a certain title indicating that this particular individual has some sort of importance that contributes to the elite group. Each title has a specific gender and colour to distinguish their role. However, note that for the women, they wear veils that are in their assigned colour. For example, the wives of the commanders are dressed in blue. Serena Joy was first faintly introduced as the commander’s wife who was sitting in the garden ‘her knees on a cushion [with] a light blue veil thrown over her wide gardening hat’ [pg 22]. Another example is the commanders. They are dressed in black and they are placed in a higher position than the wives as well as any other member in the elite society. The colour could imply that black overthrows every other colour symbolizing the position of the men and the power held against the women and the lower graded men. Also note that each character somewhat holds power over another character. For example, in the novel it is very evident that the commander has shown great interest in the novel’s protagonist, Offred. It was mainly because Offred was ‘Handmaid’ and could give the Commander what he wanted, children. This