Theme Of Religion In The Handmaid's Tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel written by Margaret Atwood in the 1980’s. It is about a main character named Offred who is a Handmaid, the narrative follows through her life in Gilead. It regularly goes back in time to before being a Handmaid. There are very strict rules that a Handmaid has to follow. They have very little rights, if they even have any. This is further illustrated in the role of religion and how it plays out in the novel. Margaret Atwood used many references to religion as a whole, such as using passages from the bible, mentioning Quakers, and priests. There are many similarities between Handmaids and nuns starting with that they both have similar clothing that they are required to wear, both Handmaids and nuns live in a type…show more content…
For nuns, they believe that there are “there is a double consequence to sin” (Catholic Bridge). The most tame of the two is called Venial Sin, which is “unhealthy attachments to creatures which must be purified either here on earth or after we die” (Catholic Bridge). Lastly, there is Grave or Mortal Sin which “deprives us from the communion of God. This results in eternal punishment-hell” (Catholic Bible). Now if a Handmaid does a crime (which could literally be anything) then they have a strong possibility that they would get killed. In chapter 42 of The Handmaid’s Tale, there is a district ‘Salvaging’ which is a recorded event where they hang women (or men) for their crimes. It is in front of everyone, Aunts, Wives, Daughters, and Handmaids. In this particular section there is one Aunt and two Handmaids. Atwood didn’t go into detail of the crimes that they had committed. In Chapter 6 we are introduced to The Wall, which is where criminals are executed for their crimes, to show the citizens the consequences of what could happen to them. At one point on the Wall hung a Catholic priest, and a man who was caught as being gay. It is quite obvious that being a Handmaid is quite literally a living hell, Atwood used this to express that women (and other minorities) don’t have the same rights that many others to make
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