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Totalitarianism’s Role in the Handmaid’s Tale

In: Novels

Submitted By 1929assassin
Words 1512
Pages 7
Set in the near future, Gilead is a failed attempt at creating a utopia. After the present day United States of America fell, Gilead arose from the ashes. Centered around the idea of repopulating the human population that was decimated by pollution and nuclear waste, the society seemed like a beacon of hope in a desolate world. People accepted the new society without much resistance only to later realize that they had been duped. The founders of Gilead took conservative ideas and implemented them to the extreme. Women’s rights are taken away. Reading is forbidden. Handmaids are introduced to bear children. The government takes over and a dystopia is born. They control almost every aspect of the people’s lives, down to the food that they consume. Though the totalitarian government of Gilead tries to break spirit of the women to control them and keep the people ignorant, it does not succeed in preventing the people from rebelling in their own small ways. The women are the key to the survival of Gilead. In order to ensure their survival, the founders of Gilead drew up a philosophy that they drilled into the women’s heads. They first broke down the women’s spirit by essentially re-educating them about what would now be accepted in society and would not be tolerated. "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" (Atwood 33). The Aunts drill this propaganda into the Handmaids’ heads to ensure that they will remember. This type of brain washing helped break down the Handmaids’ morals. Continuously being told that what they were being tasked was right made it easy for the Offred, the main character who is a Handmaid, to be impregnated by the Commander. She disregarded the Commander’s wife, not of spite but out of indifference. The propaganda spread by the government eventually...

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