An Impossible Perfection: The Handmaid's Tale
Nothing is perfect. In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, there is a controlled society in which an elitist group of people have attempted to create a utopia by applying a forceful set of rules, regulations, and class structure in an attempt at a perfect world. A perfect utopian world, as attempted at in The Handmaid's Tale, is an impossibility as long as humans retain their free will. It is in human nature to be greedy, especially by those who possess the power to obtain what they desire. There is also the fact that there is no perfect in the first place. Many people by nature also have different personal thoughts and opinions on many different matters. One will easily be able to understand why a perfect society cannot ever exist.
One reason a perfect society cannot exist is due to the greed in which every person possess in some manner. It is in human nature to possess a greedy side to ones personality. "It's so good, to be touched by someone, to be felt so greedily, to feel so greedy." (Atwood 113). This shows how something that one is greedy for is wanted with very much desire which would get the best of one's thoughts, especially when most desired things would be taken from them in a society such as this. Having a role forced on one's self will cause them to compare one's self to another one's self in an attempt to gain another one's status or differences. This is seen many times throughout the text when Offred shows signs of wanting more freedom. This would cause a disturbance in the political system. One will also want, and attempt, to take advantage of the system depending on one's status. "Fred... does a bit of cheating, getting Offred to play Scrabble with him secretly at night" (McCarthy) is a good example of this. They aren't supposed to be interacting to this degree which shows that the Commander is easily willing to abuse his higher authority. Although it may seem perfect to some, that is all dependant on how you look at it.
There cannot be anything that is perfect in the first place. Anything considered perfect would only be described as such to a select few people who share that view; it is entirely opinion based. One can tell this when Offred mentions "It's a barren landscape, yet perfect; it's the sort of desert the saints went into, so their minds would not be distracted by profusion." (Atwood 126). It draws a contrast to what different people believe is perfect in their own eyes. The society would have to be pure in the eyes of the leader which would involve some form of removals or killings of people. There are such executions that take place, as described by "the horrific realities of Gileadian society, including public executions, called "salvagings," of homosexuals, traitors, and other undesirables whose corpses are displayed on the wall" (Hunter). The government system is trying to cleanse their society by doing such act which most people would find horrendous and immoral. These different views of the world
Even if life and events were going perfect for a while, there will ultimately be flaws in the system due to people's individuality and ideals. Depending on the person, one might see something as good where someone else sees it as evil. "But there were some women burning books, that's what she was really there for.... the books were magazines. They must have poured gasoline, because the flames shot high." (Atwood 42). This is outlining a part of the text where a group of women, and "some men" (Atwood 42), were burning adult magazines because they believed them to be evil. To have everyone be perfect in terms of the leader's opinion, there would have to be one, and only one race and religion which would cause a massive uproar from the more religious based people. "Orchestrated public events such as Prayvaganzas and the production of computerized prayers called 'soul scrolls' also serve to underscore the political and commercial subversion of religion in Gilead." (Hunter) details ways the government system tries to force its own beliefs and ideals on the residents. People would not be able to accept new was and religions this easy without some attempt at avoiding it. There would also be discrepancies in the governmental system as well, potentially leading to corruption within its own members. There have been cases of this where the leader of a country would be betrayed by other members of his counsel. This alone would break a highly controlling governmental system.
In theory, some attempts at perfect societies should work, but cannot actually function properly. The views, ideas, and morals of different people would collide causing corruption, mishap, and possibly disaster, leading to a downfall of the governmental system in place. Keeping the system fair and generally desirable is the best way to have a society.