Theocracy A theocracy is a government in which there is no separation between state and religion.
Class names Women: Men: Wives Commanders of the Faithful Daughters Eyes (under the eyes of god) Handmaids Angels Marthas Guardians of the Faith Econowives
How the names refer to the Bible All of the classes and occupations have names that have biblical references. The “Marthas” (who do the house work) are named after a domestic character in the new testament. The police are called “Guardians of the faith” as they are policing the “faithful” as church and religion is not separated in this society. Their job is to not only protect those living in Gilead, but to enforce the biblical laws in place. The soldiers are called “Angels”. This is because the government of Gilead wants the people to see the soldiers are selfless protectors of their society, not as fragile human being, who may be killed or crippled in a brutal war.
The commanders official names are “commanders of the faithful” because the government of Gilead believes that woman, while faithful to God, are weak and feeble, and need to have someone in charge of them, telling them what to do and commanding them.
The ‘Eyes’ The eyes are the secret police who punish those that are seen disobeying the states law. They represent ‘Gods eyes’ as they always watching. You never know who or where they are watching and this causes Gilead’s society to live in fear.
Handmaids… “To underline the “religiousness” of their procreative role in society, the Handmaids even have to look “religious”. In their red, long dresses and their white “wings”, they look like nuns, like a “Sister dipped in blood”, as Offred says.” They even have to live like nuns as they sleep in small rooms without mirrors and are never allowed to go outside without the company of another Handmaid. Even the fact that the Commanders' Wives are present at the impregnation ceremony and at the event of a birth.
Justification of the Handmaids “And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!” And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel; and he said, ”Am I in the place of God, who hath withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” Then she said, “Behold my maid Bilhah, go in to her; that she shall bear upon my knees, and even I may have children through her.” Genesis, 30:1-3: With this passage, everything the Handmaids have to do is justified. The fact that the Handmaids are treated like objects for reproduction is condoned by the regime by using the Old Testament as an excuse.
Language “The fact that the state uses passages from the Bible and prayers on purpose and chooses the ones that help promote the ideology of the regime can be seen in many other passages in the novel. In Gilead, all forms of personal conversation are prohibited and replaced by standardized phrases, “universal truths, maxims or slogans”. The greeting ritual between the Handmaids consists of set phrases such as “Blessed be the fruit” or “May the Lord open”. This type of conversation not only has a biblical connotation but also shows the role and function that these women have in society, which is pretended to be of religious nature.” This is shown by another example of the conversation between the two handmaids Offred and Ofglen: “The war is going well, I hear,” she says. “Praise be,” I reply. “We've been sent good weather.” “Which I receive with joy.” This shows that even in their everyday language is meant to reflect the bible and show their faith. Apart from biblical names and biblical phrases, whole passages from the Bible are used to manipulate the population.
More Language… Even the names of brands, for example, of cars, refer to words in the Bible: “Whirlwind”,“Behemoth” or “Chariot”. Biblical names even filter through other aspects of the commercial world. Names like bakery or butchers have been replaced by biblical names such as "Loaves and Fishes, "All Flesh" "Lilies of the Field or “Milk and Honey”. By renaming even food and clothes shops like this, the state manages to establish references to the Bible in every aspect of daily life in Gilead.
Gilead Itself.. “The most important name, namely that of the state itself, is an allusion to the Bible as well. In the Old Testament, Gilead is a very fertile and therefore very desirable region in ancient Palestine. Ironically, the Republic of Gilead in Atwood's novel is exactly the opposite of fertile and desirable, which shows how the state tries to appear clean and pure, although it is not.” “The Bible is kept locked up, the way people once kept tea locked up, so the servants wouldn't steal it. It is an incendiary device: who knows what we'd make of it, if we ever got our hands on it? We can be read to from it, by him, but we cannot read.” The Commander is the only person in the household who is allowed to read it.
“Gilead is a place that claims to function on the basis of Christianity but that in fact lacks spirituality and morality. Instead it is based on terror and fear, which is justified by the archaic patriarchal language of the Old Testament. The Word of the Bible is distorted and used as an instrument for the control of society.”