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How does Atwood present the Commander in Chapter 15?

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  • Essay length: 1019 words
  • Submitted: 03/12/2003
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GCSE Margaret Atwood

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Katie Yeowart

How does Atwood present the Commander in Chapter 15?

In 'A Handmaid's Tale' the Commander is the most powerful authority figure in Offred's world. He is a high-ranking governement official and he is the head of the 'household' that Offred has been 'assigned' to. The Handmaids are defined solely through their bodies and their Commander and in chapter 15 we see why.

The chapter begins with the Commander knocking at the door, the knock is 'prescribed', this

gives the chapter an isolated, clinical feel now that the Commander is entering his wife's 'territory'

Atwood's use of language here is very effective, she says how the Commander 'is supposed to ask permisson to enter' and how Serena Joy 'likes to keep him waiting'. This shows the reader the awkwardness and power in the Commander & his wife's relationship. Serena Joy in the next chapter is about to have her role as a wife violated, she is taking advantage of the power she has over the 'Household' because in the next chapter she is powerless to the Ceremony.

Atwood then uses a rhetorical question 'Who knows what she said to him,

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