The Hypocrisy of the Gileadean Regime in The Handmaid??™s Tale
Since early civilization, many leaders have attempted to structure society on the basis of religious principles. In Margaret Atwood??™s novel The Handmaid??™s Tale, the regime has introduced religious principles as the foundation for their doctrine, but it lacks spirituality and morality. The fate of the woman and the use of the bible as an instrument for control over society both reveal the hypocrisy of the Gilead regime. The Gilead regime pretends to be based on religious principles, but the evident hypocrisy makes it certain the regime is destined to fail.
The word of the bible is distorted and used as an instrument for control over society. The regime only uses statements that present the godliness of Gilead. They leave out statements that imply negative things, such as a passage in Hosea: ???Gilead is a city of wicked men, stained with footprints of blood.??? (Hosea 6:8). The regime only delivers messages that imply Gilead is for the greater good. The words of the Beatitudes are also altered: ???Blessed are the meek… Blessed are the silent…??? (Atwood, 84) , but they leave out the part that says the meek ???…shall inherit the earth??? (Matthew5:5). In the novel, Offred knew that ???Blessed are the silent??? was made up, but she had no way to prove it because the bible is locked away and women are not allowed to read. This shows how powerful the bible is. It must be kept locked away because if it gets into the hands of the citizens, they would question the regime and rebel. The Gileadean regime could not gain control over society without using the bible as a weapon.
The role of women, most particularly that of the Handmaids, stresses the hypocrisy of the Gileadean regime. Women are deprived of luxuries, power and the right to read or write. This degradation of women makes it clear that the Gilead regime would have gotten rid of all women if not for breeding purposes. The role of the Handmaid is justified by the bible. Throughout the novel, many references are made to Rachel and Jacob. ???Give me children or else I die. Behold my maid Billah. She shall bear upon my knees that I may have children by her. (Atwood, 84). This refers to how Rachel could not give Jacob children, so she told him to use her maid Billah. The Handmaid??™s aer fulfilling the role of Billah, but if they are not successful with three different commanders, they are sent to the Colonies. The colonies are full of undesirable women, which where all women will end up eventually, but they must first help society grow by having children. One of Gilead??™s uses for religious principles is to justify their abuse of women.
The Gilead state claims to function on the basis of Christianity, but instead it is based on fear, lacking both spirituality and morality. The people of Gilead use biblical phrases in their speech because they fear the consequences of speaking in a casual manner. Gilead has complete control over language and because that, citizens cannot have private conversations. Citizens do not gossip for fear of being overheard by microphones and the Eyes (the secret police). The use of a secret police is also justified by the bible because ???Eye??? is taken from the bible (the eyes of God). The Wives order prayers to be read by prayer machines, not because they are interested in prayers, but to help their husbands??™ careers. It is ironic how even the citizens are pretending to be religious for their own personal gains. Even the commander, who is one of the higher ranking Gilead officials, reveals hypocrisy towards the end of the novel. Gilead was established to protect women from demeaning act, yet a brothel has been set up for the commanders??™ pleasure. When Offred asks the commander how the brother could exist, his response is: ???…you can??™t cheat nature. Nature demands variety, for men??? (Atwood, 222). The commander??™s desire for human contact shows the fundamental flaw in the Gilead moral environment. Gilead??™s lack of spirituality and morality reveal the regime is not based on Christianity but instead, it exerts fear to control its citizens.
Gilead pretends to function on the basis of religious principles, which makes it clear the regime is destined to fail. Hitler, Stalin and many others have tried to control their citizens through fear, but history has revealed that a society that seeks to live by power becomes nonexistent.