A Totalitarian Society

The Handmaid’s Tale is based on totalitarian society. In this society, women that are fertile are being used to serve the Leaders of the Faithful. In this sense, these women will offer their services to these men and provide them with children. These ‘Leaders of the Faithful’  seem to be a large group of men that use the bible as their reasons for controlling their society.

In the beginning, we are introduced to a couple and their child. They are trying to escape the authorities. They eventually are captured. The man is shot, the woman and child are separated and taken away in separate vehicles. In the next scene, we are brought to a women sitting in the window light. At (05:10), she says something that is a bit strange. “A Handmaid wouldn’t get far. It’s those other escapes. The ones you can open in yourself given a cutting edge. Or a twisted sheet and a chandelier”. When I heard this, I was in shock. I was thinking about what things these ‘handmaids’ go through to think about suicide. Why would they need a shattered proof window? Was it because their lives were that miserable that they would resort to cutting themselves?

We learn that this mysterious woman’s name is Offred. She has another name but it is forbidden as many things are forbidden in this new world. She is under the command of Mr. and Mrs. Waterford. Mr. Waterford one of the commanders of the Leaders of the Faithful. We also introduced to the ‘Marthas’. The role of the ‘Marthas’ is different from the ‘handmaids’. They provide other services like cooking and cleaning. Offred is met with another ‘handmaid’ named Ofglen. They walk to the grocery store together. At (13:22), we have a flashback of Offred and her family together at the beach. She is happy and smiling but is then pulled back to reality with a grim look on her face.

At (14:53), Offred says something that is offputting. She wants to scream and grab the nearest machine gun. She either wants to end her life or she wants to murder everyone in the store. At (15:46), Offred and Ofglen find three bodies hanging, a priest, a doctor, and a gay man. Maybe in this totalitarian society, they do not approve of Catholicism, abortion, and homosexuality. At (19:33), it is disturbing that they think that what they are doing is ordinary. The idea behind using women as only surrogates is a disgraceful act and should not be defined as ordinary.

At (30:20), Mr. Waterford is reciting a verse from the bible and is committing a sexual act against Offred. So basically, the bible verse is about Rachael wanting to have children. Since she is unable to have children, Rachael offers her maid, Bilhah, to her husband Jacob. In the same scene, the acts that were said in the bible verse are being done between Mr. Waterford, Offred, and Mr. Waterford. When watching this scene, I was just had a bad feeling. I was thinking about how this is wrong and that it is immoral. Also, Mrs. Waterford did not like this at all. She seemed to be both angry and sad that she could not bear children herself.

At (44:04), all of the handmaids are gathered to watch the persecution of a man that has been convicted of rape. It turns out that the penalty for rape is death. I find this to be very hypocritical. How is it okay for Mr. Waterford to rape Offred but it is unholy for a regular man to rape a pregnant woman? I understand that both actions are wrong and immoral. Is it because that is society’s law? I find it odd that a high-ranking couple is allowed to commit such a cruel act upon an innocent woman just because of the Bible. It does not make sense to me. So then the group of handmaids form a circle and surround the man who has committed rape. He is then beaten and brutalized for his actions. It is barbaric to watch a group of innocent women turn into vicious murderers.

The first episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” was a great representation of a totalitarian society. It is an eye-opener. I realized that how similar our reality was in comparison to this possible reality. In one of the scenes, one of the characters is being ridiculed for being raped. And they blame her for it and say that is was God teaching her a lesson. It is relevant in our time because women are speaking about against their sexual offenders and are being ridiculed by others. With this episode in the books, I have one question. What happens when the handmaid has a miscarriage? Are they punished or do they try again?

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