There are many themes throughout the novel, but one that sticks out most in my opinion is control. Control is seen a lot, whether it be the lack of freedom to women or the strict laws in which people are stripped of their individuality. The way people live in Gilead is monitored to make sure the environment is running smoothly, Gilead takes control to an extreme level and controls almost all aspects of the people who live there. Other than the commanders no one else has a voice, the women of Gilead are forced to do what the commanders believe is right because they have no say in what happens. This is relevant in our current society because China has a strict “one child policy” per family which was first initiated in the late 1970s and early 1980s by the central government of China, the purpose of which was to limit the great majority of family units in the country to one child each. The policy was to reduce the growth rate of China’s enormous population. The government in Gilead and the government of China both focused on controlling reproduction.
The handmaid’s are not given a choice about their body; they must reproduce, and it must be with the commander that they are assigned to. Failure with that results in banishment to the colonies or death. Penalties for failing to comply with the policy in China include: a fine of 370 – 12, 800 dollars. If the couple can’t pay the fine, they may lose their jobs, their land and livestock confiscated, their home destroyed, their children denied the rights and benefits of the state, like education, or their child taken away. If a family planning official discovers that a woman is having an illegal pregnancy, he or she can force the woman to have an abortion. The handmaids are denied their right to knowledge and are brainwashed to believe that they are religious and ethical for the stripping of their rights. This is relevant because citizens in China are denied their right of two or more children, they were brainwashed to believe that a male child was better than a female one because the man will carry on the family name and legacy.
When most families were restricted to one child, having a girl became highly undesirable, resulting in a rise in abortions of female fetuses. The ratio of women to men leaned more towards men – there was roughly 3% more males than females, this led to a situation in which there were fewer females available for marriage. The commanders in Gilead keep the bible hidden from the citizens by doing this, the commanders have the power to completely make up its content so the citizens have no proof that the punishments they receive are really in the bible. (‘[The Bible] is an incendiary device: who knows what we’d make of it, if we ever got our hands on it?’ (ch. 15). In conclusion, the society of Gilead relates to society in China with how strict and controlling both of the governments are. These two governments are very similar in the way they run the community.
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