Religious Power in Literature
Religion is a powerful idea. To have a faith towards something can make the difference in choosing to do right or wrong. However, at what point does acting upon that faith become wrong, even when told to believe otherwise? Religion builds empires and shatters nations in the blink of an eye, and the case is no different in Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaids Tale; a novel depicting a dystopian society that brings modern day America to a shuttering halt, and justifies its’ actions through The Bible. In Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, the government manipulates religion to justify controlling their citizens through language, dress, and education.
Organization is key in Gilead; the main society in Atwood’s novel. Every handmaid resides in a house with other handmaids, Martha’s, and their presiding Commander. Everything runs like clockwork, they shop at certain times, eat at certain times, and sleep at certain times. Only being able to use phrases such as, “Blessed be the fruit”, “May the lord open”, and, “Praise be”. All very common terms from The Bible. When Offred meets a new person, she (along with other handmaids) isn’t aloud to greet them as someone would in modern day society. Through this, the government takes away the chances of the women talking to one another, becoming familiar, or gaining an outspoken opinion. There are microphones everywhere, so even if caught speaking against Gilead, they can be taken away by one of the Eyes of the Lord, the police force.
Everyone in Gilead has their own dress code. There’s no longer individuality throughout, keeping everyone looking the same. Now in The Bible, being scantily clad or wearing clothes that would seem otherwise offensive to some people is unheard of. The same goes for Gilead. All the handmaids where red. That’s it, long red dresses with sleeves even that cover their whole body, with white wings that also go on their faces, supposedly giving them an angelic...