An Essay on the functions of the classes in Gilead.
It is the nature of society to divide itself into specific classes. Each class has different functions that in turn state their privileges and restrictions. In The Handmaid's Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, the class system is strictly defined, confining both men and women to their place in Gilead. This novel portrays this stratified order of these classes as being influenced by the order of the government as well as the manipulating patriarchal society of Gilead.
In each rung of the social ladder, there are certain rights, responsibilities, privileges and functions. The higher the class, the more privileges and responsibilities received by the occupants. The power structure of Gilead is based on gender due to the severe effects of the patriarchal society those in the higher ranks of Gilead, such as those with the power, are male. The distinct division between the genders clearly defines the power inside each gender. Within these genders is a specified system of sub-classes that classify the power in the boundaries of each gender.
The highest of all classes in Gilead are the Eyes. These mysterious people promote fear to the entire population of Gilead. A type of secret service, the Gileadeans are made to believe that the Eyes are everywhere, looking for and finding those not faithful to the Republic of Gilead. The overlying sense of mystery helps the Eyes to keep Gileadeans in awe as well as possible terrified of the secretism of the Eyes. Presence of the Eyes is used in a continuous reminder in daily routines in Gilead. The parting term of the Handmaids is "Under his Eye" (Page 54), a constant reminder to the Handmaids that there are Eyes watching over them, searching for traitors. No one is "safe" from the Eyes, as everyone in Gilead has some fear of them, from the Econowives to the all-powerful Commanders.
The Commanders are considered to have the most visible control over Gilead.