Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 3 | Words: 604
Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Gilead was a significantly different society in the past. Many of the handmaids have forgotten what life was like under the previous government and circumstances. However, this is because the handmaids along with the rest of the community are forced to forget the past. Specifically, the Aunts are training and conditioning the handmaids to conform to the present circumstances. Aunt Lydia, in particular, is an adamant advocate of the new Gilead regime and continues persuading the handmaids that they are experiencing the best social circumstances.

Showing her support for the new regime, Aunt Lydia stated, “There is more than one kind of freedom. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now, you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it” (page #). In Aunt Lydia’s eyes, even though the handmaids have lost many things and people in their lives, they have lost numerous troubles as well. In the past, people had complete freedom to choose their actions and ways of lives. This mostly included negative choices. For instance, women were raped and abused by strangers along with countless other crimes that took place.

Even though the new Gilead regime was more restricted and controlled almost all aspects of the handmaids’ lives, it provided them with protection from the past crimes. Now, people, specifically women, were free from evil crimes perpetrated against them. In the eyes of people like Aunt Lydia, the handmaids must be thankful for the new freedom and protection, rather than mourn the negative life styles they have lost. Supporters of the new Gilead regime applauded that women no longer had to worry about their safety; instead, they feel safe thanks to the “eyes” that were kept on them at all times (page #).

However, this new regime is not only inhumane but is filled with hypocrisies. Even supporters like Aunt Lydia realize and admit that people were free to live as they chose in the past. However, for the supporters, freedom was not important, and thus they accepted the suppression. The vast majority was forced to suppress through forceful means such as money being taken away and families being ripped apart. The new Gilead regime consists of a rigid hierarchy including a few very powerful men controlling the majority. It is only the commanders who have the most freedom and are able to engage in many acts without being questioned by those around them (page #).

The hypocrisies include the commanders being able to sleep with and enjoy the company of various women along with their wives. Furthermore, they suppress all women despite their social standing such as the elite wives who are confined to wearing the same color. The main tactic used is to restrict and abolish individuality; those who question it are killed as an example for others. In addition, the commanders do what they want behind the closed doors breaking all the rules of the new Gilead regime (page #).

Women in Gilead have certainly not benefited from the freedom taken away from them. As seen through Offred’s eyes, the handmaids desire to have the freedom once again to do what they desire. They are tormented and brainwashed to accept the system; all of them only have the freedom to choose from two options: to be punished or killed or to accept their fate. The most important freedom taken away from the women which is the key to retaliating is the freedom to gain knowledge. Offred succeeds in gaining knowledge to manipulate the regime and escape it. This is the point where it becomes clear to the reader and Offred that Aunt Lydia was deeply wrong.

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