How does Offred have power in The Handmaid's Tale? Any specific examples/quotes?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Offred does have power in The Handmaid's Tale, yet her powers are of course limited and challenged by the legal system of the Republic of Gilead.  As a handmaid, Offred's position in the Commander's house is strictly defined, yet the Commander himself breaks these rules to have Offred's company at night for intellectual pursuits rather than sexual ones.  This situation does provide Offred with a type of power that other handmaid's do not have, but Offred does not trust the Commander enough to attempt to use her position for any influence.  Also, later in the novel, Serena Joy arranges for Offred to have intercourse with Nick so that she might finally produce a child.  However, Offred continues to have a relationship with Nick afterwards so that she will have affection in her life.  She is risking her life by breaking the rules; yet again she does not see this opportunity as a place of power.  Finally, near the end of the novel when Ofglen tells Offred of the resistance movement, Offred is too afraid to participate.  So, Offred does have power yet she is afraid of the consequences that would go with being found out by the authorities.

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The Handmaid's Tale

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