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Power issues in The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood The Handmaids Tale a satiric dystopia by Margaret Atwood contains a complex power structure The novel details the methods through which power is used and abused in the different classes of people in Gileadean society It describes how the Commanders the men in charge secure their power through manipulation of the social structure which includes gender and status segregation of society and how God is used as a justification for their actions The novel also shows how oppressed groups such as the Handmaids and even the Wives utilise the little power they have The Handmaids Tale shows how those in power control those of lower status how they justify it and how minority groups utilise a small amount of power to retain their identity and sanity in a totalitarian arrangement The Commanders secure power over the majority in Gilead by controlling scarce resources and the satisfaction of desire The Commanders are members of the Gileadean elite the controllers of Gileadean society The third epigraph at the commencement of the novel is a Sufi proverb In the desert there is no sign that says Thou shalt not eat stones This proverb is saying that stones are not a scarce resource in the desert so there is no regulation that forbids the consumption of them Food and water are scarce resources in the desert and power can be secured by controlling these This proverb also suggests that power can be secured by controlling the satisfaction of desire In the desert one can control power by taking away food and water and therefore controlling the satisfaction of desire for the food and water In The Handmaids Tale fertile women are the scarce resource The Commanders have designed the social structure of Gilead in a way that controls access to thes e fertile women called Handmaids The Commanders also restrict and control access to food another valuable resource
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