Identity Of The People In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood shows us the literal impact of power and the identity of the people of Gilead. As it is shown and represented that commanders have the power and can do whatever they want but the handmaids rank in the lowest position and have no freedom and no right to speak. The handmaids also don’t have any identity and they get called by the name of the men they slept with. The identity, the freedom, the power, and the fear none of the handmaids can have all four things there will be one thing that they can’t have out of all four of these. The high power commanders were misusing and manipulating their power.

In Gilead, handmaids were not allowed to raise their voice or to tell they’re true identity to anyone. When Offred wants everyone to know her true identity but she can’t “My name isn’t Offred, I have another name, which nobody uses now because it’s forbidden.” (Atwood 84). Offred mentions that she does have another name she wants to go by but she can’t use her real name. According to this, it shows that women’s (handmaids) can’t have their own real identity and have to go by their owner’s (commanders) name just like Offred would be Of’ Fred. When she meets Ofglen she does not know the real name that she can call her “‘I am Ofglen,’ the woman says. … whatever she is, is no longer Ofglen. I never did know her real name.” (283). It shows how every handmaid doesn’t get the right to have their true identity. It represents that handmaids don’t get involved with other people’s matters and can’t talk openly.

Nobody has the power to do anything except the commanders. As she says this while she was talking to herself “It’s difficult to resist, believe me. But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest.” (134-135). As Offred mentions that forgiveness is the power and begging for it or stopping it is the greatest power. She believes that god can not be that unfair that he will not forgive someone. Even though she does not believe in religion, she still thinks that commanders were using their power in the wrong way and misleading the population of the Gilead. She knows that the majority of the Gilead’s population is misguided and manipulated by the commanders without their acknowledgement.

As everyone has to follow the orders that were given by the commanders and if they go against it it won’t be a good thing for them because as it mentions in the book whoever tries to oppose them will be hanged on the wall. The handmaids don’t get to have their own identity and have to go by the name of the commander there slept with. The two different ways of freedom were represented as a freedom to and a freedom from. The power or the freedom does not count in the dictionary of handmaids because the only people that have freedom and power are the one who rule over the Gilead and those are the commanders.