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Handmaid's Tale


            "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum" is what Offred always says in her prayer. She did not know the meaning of the phrase but she felt it was the right thing to say. Later on we learn that the phrase means "Dont let the bastards get you down". This short phrase, which was found by Offred in the cupboard in her bedroom, not a notable place at all, carries an ironic meaning.
             In Gilead, people are given specific titles with fixed responsibilities. There are the Commanders, the Guardians, the Handmaids, the Wives etc. Before having a deeper understanding of the book, we can already tell that Gileadean men apparently have more power than women. Why? By looking at the titles they are given, we can see that the titles of the women are closely connected to their sex, to be more precise, they are derived from their sex. Whereas the titles of men do not really have much to do with their sex. Also, there are only Unwomen in Gilead but no Unmen and there are only barren women but no sterile men. Furthermore, women are banned from everything that could help them have access to knowledge and independence. Once they have lost their financial independence and other ways to be independent, the only way to survive is to rely on men. So, all the above information tell us that men are omnipotent in Gilead and it will not be hard to realise that it is men who take the control of the whole country. Women on the other hand have to be subservient and keep quiet.
             As a totalitarian society, the Gileadean government uses the Old Testement as a device for propaganda to indoctrinate people's mind. according to the Old Testement, women are only responsible for reproduction and domestic chores whereas men are the decision makers who hold the real power. This idea is clearly revealed when Offred was struggling whether she should go to see the Commander alone or not, since if Serena Joy discovered that, she would be sent to the colonies.


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