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Examine the significance Religion plays in Gileadian society.

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Introduction

Examine the significance Religion plays in Gileadian society. Religion plays a huge role in Gilead. It creates hope, faith, despair and loss. Religion is significant to many of the events, which take place in Gilead, and justifies nearly all Gilead's actions. However Religion also helps Offred to cope with her position and status. Many ceremonies take place within Gilead to carry out important rituals. Gilead uses the bible to justify behaviours in Gileadian society. These justifications take place in rituals like birth ceremonies, impregnation ceremonies and salvaging ceremonies. The commander reads from the bible before the impregnation ceremony, this gives him a sense of power and foreboding as he is justifying his own actions as well as Gileadian's reforms. The commander reads 'Be fruitful and multiply' this suggests that women were made souly to reproduce as 'fruitful' has connotations of fertility. This gives justification to the role the handmaids lead as if they should be proud to be carrying out such an important function. This also pre-empts the handmaid into becoming pregnant as it creates a great deal of pressure on them and is there as a reminder on what they are there for. This highlights the literal reasons for sexual intercourse and religion takes away love and emotion and replaces it with simple reproduction. The commander also includes in the family prayers the same phrase incorporated in the epilogue 'behold my maid Bilhah. ...read more.

Middle

This presents the social hierarchy. Offred's reaction to this indoctrination is 'then comes the mouldy old Rachel and Leah stuff we had drummed into us at the centre'. Again we see Offred's resistance to scriptural justification, we also see the lack of respect and a great deal of emotional rebellion. 'mouldy' gives the impression of the 'Rachel and Leah' story rotting away, slowly disappearing like the infestation of a fruit, but in these terms the words of the story are rotting out of Offred's mind as they are read because she does not believe any of it. 'old' shows the boredom of the words, it shows they were used so much in the centre that they no longer have any meaning, they are old, withered words which no longer have any meaning or life in them. 'drummed' intensifies the obsession Gilead has to programme its modifications in society onto the handmaids. Although religion plays an important role in Gilead we see that not all aspects of religion are welcomed with open arms. Religious figureheads are executed and hung at the wall. 'There are three new bodies on the wall. One is a priest, still wearing the black cassock...' This creates some enigma as Gilead is so intense on religion however they would murder the head of the church, it is here where we begin to realise that religion in a conventional sense does not exist. ...read more.

Conclusion

Not only do we see humour but extreme strength and forgiveness 'I suppose I should say I forgive whoever did this, and what their doing now. I'll try but it isn't easy' this creates an ample amount of strength, Offred is not only forgiving them for their past mistakes, but for the ones they are doing at the present. She is attempting to forgive those for her pain, and the breaking of her family and life. Forgiving them for the enslavement of her own beliefs. This shows Offred as our heroin. We see that Offred is an extremely strong Christian trying to forgive those who have demoralized her whole being. It is there fore religion, which gives Offred her strengths. Religion is interpretated in Gilead in their own way; the parts they can use to benefit them are taught those, which defy the reforms of Gilead, are left out. Such as the priests being taken out, as they were a form of religion, which did not agree with Gileadian society. Religion is a very strong standing point for Gilead as they interpretate the bible to show gods approval. Which is how they gain their power. Religions also used against Gilead, as it is what gives Offred hope and faith in escaping to the underground movement. Religion battles against itself to create the conflict in beliefs in 'The handmaids tale'. ...read more.

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