Does the women of Gilead know that they are being controlled?
Are the women of Gilead aware that they are being controlled by the society? In Margaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale, the theme of control is a very important factor of the book. In the story, at the Republic of Gilead, the women are being controlled by the society to do what the society wants them to do. The handmaids are brainwashed before they start working for the society. But since the brainwashing happens so naturally over a period of time, the handmaids dont fully realize that they have been brainwashed by the society to do what the society wants them to do.
The theme of control and being brainwashed could be found in many parts of books in many forms. For example, before the women became handmaids, they were at a institution where they get educated and influenced by the aunts on how they should live their lives. In the institution, the aunts treat the women like children. But whose fault was it? Aunt Helena says, holding up on plump finger.(93), aunts ask such questions, which leads the women to think the way the society wants them to think. Her fault, her fault, her fault, we chant in unison.(94), and the women repeats the answer out loud as a whole as if they were young kindergartners, and by doing so, they are being influenced and brainwashed. By treating them like children and making them repeat after what they say, they slowly influence the women, leading the women to think the way the society wants them to think.
Another example of the society trying to influence the women could be found when the Offred describes the part where the household assembles for the ceremony at the sitting room. The house hold waits for the commander to arrive, and until than they always watch the news on the television which Serena Joy turns on. But we can also realize that Offred has doubts about whether the news is real or not. Who knows if any of it is true? It could be old clips, it could be faked.(105). Although shes having doubts, she still cant fight it off. As she watches the news, she runs into this part where the anchorman appears in the screen explaining the situation, and tells the viewers that everything will be fine. At this part, she feels that she is being brainwashed by the anchorman. I struggle against him. Hes like and old movie star, I tell myself, with false teeth and a face job. At the same time I sway towards him, like one hypnotized. If only it were true. If only I could believe.(107). Although she knows that shes being brainwashed she cant fight it back, and even wants to believe the news since she feels that it would be the best for her that if the anchorman was telling the truth.
Although Offred sort of realizes that she is being controlled, she cant fight it back. It happened so gradually over a long period of time that she cant change it. And she is even used to it in a way that she wants to believe what the news tells her. The rest of the women in Gilead probably feels the same. Some of them might not know that they are being brainwashed, but they are being brainwashed and used by the society to the societys needs.