FACTOID # 11: Oklahoma has the highest rate of women in State or Federal correctional facilities.
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > Republic of Gilead
The Gilead flag in the film
Enlarge
The Gilead flag in the film

The Republic of Gilead is a theocratic fictional country that is the setting of the Margaret Atwood dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale. Image File history File links Gilead-Flag. ... Image File history File links Gilead-Flag. ... In a broad definition, a republic is a state whose political organization rests on the principle that the citizens or electorate constitute the ultimate root of legitimacy and sovereignty. ... The term theocracy is commonly used to describe a form of government in which a religion or faith plays the dominant role. ... Map of the Land of Oz, the fictional country in the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Map of the fictional island of Sodor used in the Thomas the Tank Engine stories Fictitious countries used in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four A guidebook produced about the fictional country Molvanîa... Margaret Atwood Margaret Eleanor Peggy Atwood, CC (born November 18, 1939) is one of Canada’s most important contemporary writers. ... A dystopia (or alternatively cacotopia) is a fictional society, usually portrayed as existing in a future time, when the conditions of life are extremely bad due to deprivation, oppression, or terror. ... Cover of The Handmaids Tale The Handmaids Tale is a 1985 dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. ...

Contents


Overview

The country exists within the borders of what was originally the United States of America. However after an unspecified catastrophe (possibly a nuclear or biological war or extreme environmental pollution) and a staged terrorist attack on the President and Congress, a revolution occurred which deposed the United States government and abolished the US Constitution. A new theocratic government was formed under the rule of a military dictatorship. Nuclear War is a card game designed by Douglas Malewicki, and originally published in 1966. ... Biological warfare, also known as germ warfare, is the use of any organism (bacteria, virus or other disease-causing organism) or toxin found in nature, as a weapon of war. ... Water pollution Environmental pollution is the release of environmental contaminants. ... The term terrorism is largely synonymous with political violence or the threat of violence, and refers to a strategy of using coordinated attacks that typically fall within the time, manner of conduct, and place commonly understood as unconventional warfare. ... The presidential seal was used by president Hayes in 1880 and last modified in 1959 by adding the 50th star for Hawaii. ... Congress in Joint Session. ... Page I of the Constitution of the United States of America Page II of the United States Constitution Page III of the United States Constitution Page IV of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America and is... Augusto Pinochet (sitting) was an army general who led a military coup in Chile in 1973. ...


The Republic of Gilead is governed according to strict fundamentalist Christian philosophy. Other religions are not tolerated, and those who do not conform are quickly executed by the state or shipped to areas of the former US known as the "colonies" which have dangerously high levels of radiation. For a brief period at the outset of the Republic, Jewish people also have the option of emigrating to Israel as they are regarded as Sons of Jacob and therefore deserving of special treatment. Those who may have formerly been considered African-American are redesignated the Children of Ham and transported to National Homeland One, believed to be located somewhere within the boundaries of what was previously North Dakota. However, some sources have suggested that formerly African-American women form part or all of the complement of the Marthas. Fundamentalist Christianity is a fundamentalist movement, especially within American Protestantism. ... Radiation has a variety of different meanings. ... The word Jew ( Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity and often a combination of these attributes. ... An African American (also Afro-American or Black American, or black) is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. ... National Homeland One is part of the Republic of Gilead, the fictional religious dictatorship that replaced the United States in Margaret Atwoods dystopian novel, The Handmaids Tale. ... The term Marthas refers to a group of women who are deemed most appropriate for a life of domestic servitude in the Republic of Gilead. ...


The Republic also has a brutal policy towards women, which forms much of the novel's central theme. In Gilead women are forbidden to read, and are segregated into an elaborate caste system in which their sexual activities are strictly controlled and regulated so as to serve the procreative agendas of the government. Caste systems are traditional, hereditary systems of social stratification. ...


Origins

The Republic of Gilead is ruled through biblical propaganda and rigid enforcement of social roles. Most citizens have been stripped of their freedoms. All religions, except the official state religion, have been suppressed. Those who do not conform to the new societal norms are pressed into service as maids and personal servants or deported to "the colonies" (regions where pollution has reached toxic levels) — if they are lucky. Political and religious dissidents, abortionists, and homosexuals are executed and hung at "The Wall" for public display. The government has proclaimed martial law due to the destabilizing effect of "hordes of guerrillas" roaming the countryside, although the actual threat from the "guerillas" may be greatly exaggerated. Jesus was actually a Sears employee before he got fired and was hired at Wang computers where he was assistant manager for saling Wangs and Wang accesories now but his most famous work is for probly writing the bible and starting up his own company that we now know as... U.S. propaganda poster, depicting a Nazi stabbing a Bible. ... The word citizen may refer to: A person with a citizenship Citizen Watch Co. ... Mohandas K. Gandhi - Freedom can be achieved through inner sovereignty. ... Water pollution Environmental pollution is the release of environmental contaminants. ... Look up toxic and toxicity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... An abortion is the termination of the gestation of an embryo or fetus resulting in or from its death. ... The word homosexuality has acquired multiple meanings over time. ... Martial law is the system of rules that takes effect (usually after a formal declaration) when a military authority takes control of the normal administration of justice. ... Guerrilla War redirects here. ...


In Gilead, many people are infertile for reasons explored only in the coda to the story. It is possibly due to the ecological disaster which has made parts of the country unhabitable. Fertile women are forced to engage in sexual reproduction for the benefit of the upper classes. Lower class women who cannot reproduce are exiled. Although men may also be infertile, it is fundamental to the Gileadan power structure that they be beyond reproach. According to the state, the problem is not with the men, it is always with the women. Women who cannot conceive after their third placement are deemed barren, and sent to the dreaded colonies with all the other "Unwomen" - resulting in many genuinely fertile Handmaids seeking to impregnate themselves using alternative methods, such as her mother Infertility is the inability to naturally conceive a child or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term. ... The word ecology is often used in common parlance as a synonym for the natural environment or environmentalism. ... EXILE is a 6-member Japanese pop music band. ...


Subjugation of women

In Gilead, women are stripped of their independence. They are no longer allowed to hold property, arrange their own affairs, make reproductive choices, read, wear make-up, or choose their clothes. Women are segregated into categories, and dressed according to their social function. Seven legitimate categories (Wives, Daughters, Widows, Aunts, Marthas, Handmaids, and Econowives), and two illegitimate functional categories (Unwomen and, secretly, prostitutes), are mentioned in the novel. Reading is the process of retrieving and comprehending some form of stored information or ideas. ... Cosmetics or makeup are substances to enhance the beauty of the human body, apart from simple cleaning. ...


Socially accepted and promoted categories of women in Gilead

  1. White women seem to be the default in the Gilead society. In the novel, the two main non-white ethnic groups mentioned are African Americans and Jewish Americans. Both are quickly shuttled away per the fundamentalist Gileadan interpretations of the Bible. The value of reproduction of white women in America is privileged over that of others. This is an underpinning assumption of the book.
  2. Wives are at the top social level permitted to women. They are women married to the Commanders who are the ruling circle of the new military dictatorship. They are often infertile for unknown reasons, possibly related to an unexplored ecological disaster or effects of a bioweapon. Wives always wear blue dresses. With the death of the husband, a Wife becomes a Widow, and must dress in black. It is implicitly suggested in the novel that Widows are also being sent to the colonies.
  3. Daughters are the natural or adopted children of Wives, and though not mentioned perhaps also of Econowives. They wear white until marriage (at 14). The narrator's daughter had been adopted by one of the Wives who are infertile.
  4. Aunts have the duty of training and monitoring the Handmaids. In return they receive — relatively speaking — a substantial degree of personal autonomy. It is a central organisational element of Gilead that women be used in the social repression of women. Aunts dress in brown suits.
  5. Handmaids are fertile women whose social function is to bear children for the Wives. Handmaids are subjected to a monthly reproductive ritual derived from the biblical story of Rachel and Leah's reproductive competition (Genesis 29:31–35; 30:1–24). Handmaids dress in a red habit with a white head-dress which obscures their peripheral vision. The Aunt system produces Handmaids, by reeducating fertile women who have broken Gileadean gender laws. Due to the demands of Wives for fertile Handmaids, Gilead gradually increased the number of gender-crimes. Additionally, the Aunt system promotes the role of the Handmaid, and seeks to legitimise the role of Handmaid by removing any association with gender-criminality.
  6. Marthas are infertile women whose compliant nature and domestic skills recommend them to a life of domestic servitude in the houses of the elite. There is conjectural evidence that Marthas may be African Americans (in the chapter "Shopping"), reflecting a long tradition of the American elite using black slaves and domestic workers as house servants. However, since black people (referred to in the novel as the "Children of Ham") are described as having been relocated into bantustans, this is unlikely. Marthas dress in green smocks.
  7. Econowives are women who have married low ranking bureaucrats. Econowives are expected to perform all the female functions: domestic duties, companionship, child-bearing. The 'Econowife dress is multicoloured: red, blue and green to reflect their multiple roles. It is believed by Aunt Lydia that one day, no-one will have to be an Econowife, suggesting that they are just temporary measures within Gilead.

The division of labour between women engenders resentment between categories. Marthas, Wives and Econowives perceive Handmaids as sluttish, although Econowives also resent Handmaids' freedom from domestic work. African Americans, also known as Afro-Americans or black Americans, are an ethnic group in the United States of America whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Sub-Saharan and West Africa. ... The word Jew ( Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity and often a combination of these attributes. ... Fundamentalism is a movement to maintain strict adherence to founding principles. ... Augusto Pinochet (sitting) was an army general who led a military coup in Chile in 1973. ... Biological warfare, also known as germ warfare, is the use of any organism (bacteria, virus or other disease-causing organism) or toxin found in nature, as a weapon of war. ... Autonomy is the condition of something that does not depend on anything else. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... Rachel (רָחֵל Ewe, also innocence and gentility of a lamb and may mean Lamb of God. Standard Hebrew Raḥel, Tiberian Hebrew Rāḫēl, Rāḥēl) is the second and favorite wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin, first mentioned in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible. ... Look up Leah and לֵאָה in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Genesis (Greek: Γένεσις, having the meanings of birth, creation, cause, beginning, source and origin), also called The First Book of Moses, is the first book of Torah (five books of Moses), and is the first book of the Tanakh, part of the Hebrew Bible; it is also the first book of... Peripheral vision is a part of vision that occurs outside the very center of gaze. ... This article needs to be wikified. ... A servant is a person who is hired to provide regular household or other duties, and receives compensation. ... In mathematics, a conjecture is a mathematical statement which has been proposed as a true statement, but which no one has yet been able to prove or disprove. ... African Americans, also known as Afro-Americans or black Americans, are an ethnic group in the United States of America whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Sub-Saharan and West Africa. ... Black is a color with several subtle differences in meaning. ... The Buxton Memorial Fountain, celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, London. ... It has been suggested that servant (domestic) be merged into this article or section. ... Ham (חָם, Standard Hebrew Ḥam, Tiberian Hebrew Ḥām, Ḫām, Geez ካም Kam: possibly warm; hot), according to the Genealogies of Genesis, was a son of Noah and the father of Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan. ... Bantustan refers to any of the territories designated as tribal homelands for black South Africans during the Apartheid era. ... Bureaucracy is a concept in sociology and political science. ...


Socially unacceptable categories of women in Gilead

Outside of society exist two further classes of women.

  1. Jezebels. Informally, the desires of Commanders for mistresses — as in the former times — has resulted in an illegal and collective form of prostitution available only to Commanders. The women who populate this system are informally known as Jezebels. Just as is true in contemporary society, this category of women may also include lesbians. These women are housed in the remains of a hotel from former times, and are used by Commanders to entertain foreign dignitaries. Jezebels dress in the remnants of sexualized costumes from "the time before": cheerleaders' costumes, school uniforms, and Playboy Bunny costumes.
  2. Unwomen are sterile women, widows, feminists, lesbians, and politically dissident women confined to the Colonies (both areas of agricultural production, and sites of deadly pollution). Unwomen as a category embraces all women (and some men) unable to fit within the Republic of Gilead's gender categories. Unlike members of society who transgress and break fundamental rules (who are murderously punished), unwomen are categorically incapable of social integration as their society rejects them utterly. Males who engage in homosexuality (or related acts) are either executed, or declared unwomen and sent to the colonies to die a slow death. All unwomen, male or female, wear grey dresses.

Illegal, or unlawful, is either prohibitted or not authorized by law. ... A sex worker in Germany. ... Jezebel (אִיזֶבֶל / אִיזָבֶל (not exalted) Standard Hebrew Izével/Izável, Tiberian Hebrew, ʾÎzéḇel / ʾÎzāḇel) is the name of two women in the Hebrew Bible. ... A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging, usually on a short-term basis and especially for tourists. ... Bunny Girl costume A model wears the Bunny Girl costume A Playboy Bunny was a female server at the Playboy Clubs (open 1960–1988). ... Feminism is a diverse, competing, and often opposing collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic inequalities. ... This article is about homosexual women, not inhabitants of the Greek island of Lesbos A lesbian (lowercase L) is a homosexual woman. ... The word homosexuality has acquired multiple meanings over time. ...

"The Ceremony"

Human sexuality in Gilead has come under a general social regulation that sex for pleasure is fundamentally degrading to women. Men are seen as constantly desiring sexual pleasure, but obliged to abstain for religio-social reasons. The social regulation is enforced as a law with corporal punishment inflicted by Aunts for lesser offences, and capital punishment inflicted by a group of Handmaids for greater offences (particicution). Look up Sex on Wiktionary, the free dictionary A sex is one of two specimen categories of species that recombine their genetic material in order to reproduce, a process called genetic recombination. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... It has been suggested that Capital punishment debate be merged into this article or section, because the split violates the Wikipedia:Content forking guideline. ...


"The Ceremony" is a sanctioned sexual act for the purposes of reproduction with two women present. This unites Wives, Aunts, Marthas and Handmaids in an urgent reproductive mission. Sex acts which defile the Ceremony (sex for pleasure involving Handmaids, homosexuality) are punished severely with death. It is uncertain what sexual relations exist between men and Wives, but the example of Commander Fred indicates a high degree of personal and sexual alienation in marriage. The sexual position of Econowives is also uncertain — but they are viewed with disdain by the reproductive alliance of Wives, Aunts, Marthas and Handmaids. Death is the cessation of physical life in a living organism, or the state of the deceased. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...


The Ceremony reenacts in rather literal fashion the biblical passage where Jacob's infertile wife Rachel says to him "Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees" (Genesis 29:31–35; 30:1–24). The Gileadan variation on the passage has the Handmaid lying supine upon the Wife during the sex act itself.


The novel's narrator, the Handmaid Offred, describes the ceremony:

My red skirt is hitched up to my waist though no higher. Below it the Commander is fucking. What he is fucking is the lower part of my body. I do not say making love, because this is not what he's doing. Copulating too would be inaccurate, because it would imply two people and only one is involved. Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on here that I haven't signed up for.

Once a Handmaid is pregnant, she is venerated by her peers and by the Wives. When her baby is born, it is given to the Wife of her Commander, and she is reassigned to another household. The reward of the Handmaid for giving birth is that she will now never be sent to the Colonies, even if she does not conceive again. This shows that there is some justice within in the Gileadean society, and that there is, however small, some reward for women.


Social regulation of human sexuality

The Gileadian elite has a definite analysis of the failure of society in "the former times"; women were too available to men. Men's ready sexual access to women led to violence and abuse. Gilead's solution is to limit men's access to women until they have proved themselves within social-ideological terms.


Sumptuary laws

The sumptuary laws of Gilead are quite complex. All lower status individuals are regulated by sumptuary dress laws. Women, in particular, are divided into the castes by their dress. Men too are regulated, but equipped with powerful military or paramilitary uniforms: constrained but also empowered. Only rare civilians (increasingly persecuted) and Commanders seem to be free of sumptuary restrictions. This freedom itself is indicative of power. A uniform is a set of standard clothing worn by members of an organisation whilst participating in that organisations activity. ...


Additionally, those punished with death are dressed for the occasion: priests in long, forbidding robes and Doctors in consulting gowns. Roman Catholic priest A priest or priestess is a holy man or woman who takes an officiating role in worship of any religion, with the distinguishing characteristic of offering sacrifices. ...


Through its sumptuary law, Gilead is a society of appearance.


  Results from FactBites:
 
Republic of Gilead - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1876 words)
The Republic of Gilead is a theocratic fictional country that is the setting of the Margaret Atwood dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale.
The Republic of Gilead is governed according to strict fundamentalist Christian philosophy.
In Gilead women are forbidden to read, and are segregated into an elaborate caste system in which their sexual activities are strictly controlled and regulated so as to serve the procreative agendas of the government.
The Handmaid's Tale - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3540 words)
The government has proclaimed martial law due to the destabilizing effect of "hordes of guerrillas" roaming the countryside, although the actual threat from the "guerrillas" may be greatly exaggerated.
Atwood shows how an extremist view can lead to such a society as Gilead by portraying this in the character of Serena Joy, who used to be a preacher of traditional values in 'the time before'.
"Offred" is the patronymic which describes her function in the Republic of Gilead; Offred belongs to, or is "of" her Commander, Fred.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m