The Handmaid's Tale

Commentary on Holidays in Gilead 12th Grade

In all societies exists some sense of spirituality. This may be religion or simply a sense of mindfulness and connection. While this aspect may be beneficial for communities, it may oppositely corrupt depending on in which ways it is enacted and received. In Margaret Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale, the society, Gilead, is built upon a totalitarian government derived from a strict interpretation of the Holy Bible. Set in the near future, Atwood writes about a country riddled with infertility; the women, handmaids, who are capable of conceiving children are domesticated, nearly property to their household. Because of this infertility, birth transforms into a sacred occasion -- revered as the most valued event in Gilead -- so much so that "Birth Days" are shrouded as a holiday of sorts. Through the examination of a "Birth Day," one is able to recognize how this absolutist government presents this holiday as a means to maintain control, present hope, and manipulate freedom over the women.

The women in Gilead are intensely segregated. Handmaids are employed in order to continue the race for the officials and wives who are unable to bear children. On these "Birth Days," the handmaids are refused cakes and other sweets that the...

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