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Using the Lord's prayer as a starting point, discuss the use of religion in 'A Handmaid's Tale.'

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Introduction

Using the Lord's prayer as a starting point, discuss the use of religion in 'A Handmaid's Tale.' In 'A Handmaid's Tale' religion is a major theme, probably the most dominant. There are many references to religion, although most are not explicit. Religion is simply a constant undertone which manifests a greater depth to the novel. Firstly, the location is biblical. Gilead was a restorative mountainous region in ancient Palestine that is referred to in the Old Testament. 'Balm in Gilead,' it is the image of an embattled state. It was a place for reconditioning your spirits (Myrrh), and it was renamed [to Gilead] when the regime started. Even things like the shops in town have a biblical link. 'Lilies of the Field' for instance is a reference to the beautiful flowers spoken of in the Old Testament. 'Milk and Honey' refers to the promised land. ...read more.

Middle

Janine's confession was like a confession, however instead of being a private confession, it was done in front of all of the other girls. "It was my fault, she says. It was my own fault. I led them on. I deserved the pain." The concept of confessing your sins in order to be forgiven is still present, but now it is solely to act as an example for the other girls, to keep them in line thus making it less biblical and less of a soul purification. When Offred arrives at her new residence, Atwood explains the clothing choices. The commander's wives are dressed in blue. Light blue is a colour that is linked to the virgin Mary. They are in fact subliminally suggested to be Virgin Mary figures as they did not fornicate, yet still are given a child. ...read more.

Conclusion

The regime criminalises anything that interferes with reproduction, "God's gift", this is why the doctor's who performed abortions were hung with the installment of the regime. Prior to the ceremony, the whole household gathers in the living room to hear the Commander read extracts from the bible. This is to remind them of the purpose of sex, something that is biblical and is to produce a child, not for pleasure or recreation. The commander reads the bible with discomfort, as described by Atwood, and during the reading Offreds mind wanders. This demonstrates how people are not truly dedicated to the religious side, it is simply a formality for them. Even at the Prayvaganza we get the impression that people are not there to pray and genuinely care about it because Atwood writes, "...Attendance at the Prayvaganza isn't compulsory...but the galleries seem to be filling up anyway. I suppose it's a form of entertainment, like a show or a circus. ...read more.

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