Gilead Handmaid’s Tale

Gilead is shown in the novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” as a dictatorial state. The Republic of Gilead is also known as the “Divine Republic”. According to the Handmaid’s tale Gilead is located in the present-day United States of America.

2 Introduction To The Handmaid’s Tales

In the novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” there is a story of the republic of Gilead, which is a dictatorial state. The novel The Handmaid’s Tale” was written by a Canadian author, Margaret Atwood. The story revolves around the life of the women living in Gilead. It was written back in 1985.

2.1 Summary Of The Handmaid’s Tale


The story takes place in a theocratic military dictatorship, known as the Republic of Gilead. The story starts with the assassination of the president including others from congress. A revolution began by an extreme Christian movement known as the “sons of Jacob” who suspends the constitution of the United States. They harshly eliminate the women laws as well. Now it was a new government in the state of Gilead. The new government consolidated rapidly, in order to implement its power and new laws along with a new militarized and forceful old testament inspired social and religious laws on the public of Gilead. According to the new laws, women are not allowed to read. There were no women’s rights in the new legislation, besides the other human rights were also extremely limited.

The New Social And Religious Laws Of The Gilead

In this epoch, there is much environmental pollution along with the use of harmful radiations everywhere. In all such circumstances, Offred was among the few women who still are fertile. In the new legislation, the women were also not allowed to take the authority of their own reproduction system. So the same happened to her. She was forced to produce children, of the commanders, who are running the government. This was known as “Handmaid”, as it is of the kind of the story that is present in the bible, the story of Rachel and her handmaid Bilhah. The handmaids and lower class of the society were not the only women who were facing all this, in fact, the other women of the society including the wives of the Commanders, aunts, cooks, ecowives , married, unmarried and even the widows all had to face these new strict laws. Like for example, there was a strict dress code for the women of the society, the wives of the commanders had to wear a blue dress, handmaid red dress with a veil on their face, the aunts in brown, the maids and cooks in green, the housewives in blue, red and green stripes, the younger girls who are unmarried in white, and the widows in black.

Offred A Handmaid

The novel begins with the self-narration of a story by Offred, who was now doing her third assignment of carrying a baby for a commander. She describes how she tried to escape to Canada along with her family, but fails to do so. She was not treated well at all, in the house where she was living along with the wife of the commander. The wife of the commander Serena was already a Christian worker, who had been supporting the role of the women in the society as a subordinate. When the ceremony took place what has held as a reproduction ritual, the commander sent a message to Offred. In short, the commander and Offred get into an illegal relation. The commander gives her favours in both the material items as well as in the information. After that, he takes her to the government-run brothel that was a private hidden place.
In the brothel, Offred meets Moira; she tells Offred some of the other laws of this extremist government that were not in her information. Moira tells that breaking the laws could lead to strict punishments, and those who break the law, are sent to the colonies. The colonies with the toxins material are the place where such lawbreakers are forced to clean the highly toxic waste.

Offred And Nick’s Relation

It was the time when Offred was visiting the commander; she comes to know about an underground campaign that was working on the agenda to overthrow the Republic of Gilead. Meanwhile, Serena suspects that the commander is infertile, so she plans for arranging Offred for a sexual relationship with Nick, who is the personal servant of the commander. When she comes in personal contact with Nick, she finds the moments they spent together with the most pleasing ones. Then those, she had spent with her husband. Offred had done criminal acts with her husband. She became so closer to Nick that she easily tells all that had happened in her past life.

Later Serena came to know about the illegal relationship of the Offred with the commander. The 'eyes of God,’ secret police arrives at the house to take Offred away. Offred tells Nick that she is pregnant. She had no idea who they are? Is it police known as the eye of God, or they are members of Manday. As they taking her to the van, Nick soothes her and tells her to have faith in him. She also was not sure whether Nick is a member of the Mayday or he just made an excuse. With all this uncertainty she sits in the van.

2.2 The Characters In The Handmaid’s Tale


The story narration in the novel is by Offred. Who describes all the eye-witnessed events of the republic of Gilead. She is the main leading character who is portraying women who are living in the Republic of Gilead. She was selected as a Commander’s Handmaid.

The Commander

He is a person from the working body of the government. In the novel, the commander mentions that he was actually a scientist. Offered remains in an intimate relationship with the Commander.

Serena Joy

Serena is the wife of the Commander. She was a televangelist in the past. With the implementation of new laws, forcefully her powers were taken away from her, and they also tried to hide her previous reputation. Later Offred recognized her as a TV personality when she comes in contact with Serena’s husband.


Ofglen was a shopping partner of Offred. She was her neighbour and a fellow handmaid. She was a member of Mayday resistance. Finally, she committed suicide; as she had a fear of her imprisonment by the government.


Nick serves as a chauffeur of the commander. It was Nick who became a sexual partner Offred. The wife of the commander allows them both to have a relationship with each other. Offered falls in love with Nick, but she was doubted about his character. This was not known to Offred that who nick is in actual? Either he is a party loyalist or is he a part of the resistance. He has claimed that he is a part of the Resistance. Though it was concluded later that he was, in reality, a part of the resistance, as he had helped in escaping Offred out of the commander’s house.


Moira is the character of a close friend of Offred. As they both were in an illegal relationship that was strictly prohibited in Christianity, and so was in the law of the Republic of Gilead. She was appointed as a handmaid as well after the appointment of Offred. But she escapes soon. Later Offred saw Moira who was working in the brothel.


Luke was the husband of Offred in The Handmaid’s tale. When the republic of Gilead was formed after the fall of the old government, she was forcefully taken as a handmaid, while her daughter was taken by a loyalist family. Eventually, she did not hear anything about Luke till the end.

3 Republic of Gilead

The Republic of Gilead in the Handmaid’s tale is located in the present-day united states of America.

3.1 Characteristics of the Republic of Gilead

The capital of the Republic of Gilead is Washington DC, with its boundary attached to Canada from the north and with Texas from the south. There was a system of inner-party men, who were actually the ruling party or the in charge of the country known as the “committee’. The Republic of Gilead was not a democratic form of government, but that was shown as a dictatorial form of the government that is run by ‘Committee’.
In the social and class system, the laws of Gilead were not according to general equality. The legal position of any individual from one social class was kept uniform.
There was great discrimination of rights in concern with gender. The female children were not allowed to receive education after reaching the age of menarche, after which they had to leave the school for marrying. While the boys were allowed to study further.

3.2 Female Classes in the Republic of Gilead


In Gilead, where the women were the lesser of all the humans, the highest rank was available to the wives. Their authority to using power was limited to their husband and upon the household staff. They had little power to implement on the Aunts and Guardians. The wives were ordered to wear a teal, blue or green dress.


The widows everywhere in the republic of Gilead were wearing a black dress.


The duty of aunts was to supervise the handmaids and other women of the society. In accordance with the nature of their duty, they were allowed to issue orders to Guardians. They use to wear brown garment.


As mentioned earlier that those women who are living in the Republic of Gilead, who are fertile and who are also especially divorced, were forced to work for bearing kids for the reputed workers of the government of Gilead.


This is a working/ servant class of the women in the republic of Gilead who wear a grey dress.


These are the women of the low ranked class who are married. If they do not give birth to their own child, they were taken as handmaid or Martha.


The women who were working as a prostitute in the brothel house were known as Jezebel.


The most unlucky class of the women is the un-women in Gilead. As these are those women who are infertile. They were sent to the polluted lands for cleaning the land in the high radiation area.

3.3 The Awards and Achievements by The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale got much popularity among the book readers.

• In 1985 The Handmaid’s Tale won the Governor General’s Award.
• In 1987 The Handmaid’s Tale was awarded the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
• In 1986 The Handmaid’s Tale was nominated for Nebula Award.
• It was 1986 The Handmaid’s Tale was nominated for the Booker Prize.
• In 1987 it got selected for the Prometheus award.
• The Handmaid’s Tale has the honour that it kept printing since its first publication in 1985.

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the Gilead and the Handmaid’s Tale.

1. Where is Gilead in Handmaid’s tale?

According to the novel ‘The handmaid’s Tale’, the Republic of Gilead is located in the former United States of America. After the arrival of an extreme force, military dictatorship started in the republic.

2. How would you describe Gilead?

The former state of the United States of America came under the control of an extremist branch of the Christians. Who took control of the entire nation in their hands? That resulted in the development of a new state known as ‘Gilead’. The state of Gilead is run by these extreme Christians on the forced harsh violence.

3. What part of the US is Gilead?

The republic of Gilead as narrated in the Handmaid’s tale is positioned in present-day America and is comprised of the states like Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Hampshire, Massachusetts New Jersy.


The novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is written by Margaret Atwood. The story of the novel is about the republic of Gilead, about the social injustice of the extremist’s government and also about the story of the transgender and gays of Gilead. The novel has also remained under criticism due to its nature. If we see the other side of the image than the author has tried to focus on the inequality among the genders that are prevailing in the society

The storyline hasn’t detailed how Gilead’s government or state function precisely, however the theocratic, inner party of the men, more appropriately termed the junta called “Committee” appears to the be within the charge . They rule from the Washington, D.C., which is the capital of the Gilead or the former United States of the America, the remnants of the which Gilead has been engaged within the an ongoing civil war with the over territory or population (particularly women).
Unlike the United States of the America, Gilead is the not the democratic republic but rather an oligarchic one ruled by the Committee. Political maps of the Gilead reveal this Gilead abolished America’s federal system of the government or states, or has become the unitary republic with the centralized government or the former states re-organized into larger “districts”. on the regional level, Gilead is the governed by “Councils” similar to the boards of the local Commanders .
Gilead borders Canada to the north or Texas to the south. Individual civil liberties enumerated within the now-suspended U.S. Constitution have been replaced by the system of the duties or privileges implemented within the hierarchy of the social classes, with the every former U.S. citizen being assigned to the particular class or expected (and/or forced) to the fulfill certain roles (see Society or Class System).
Much of the this legislation is the influenced or justified by the rigid, made-up interpretation of the scripture. The name Gilead itself is the taken from the Bible, referring to the several different locations or individuals or generally translated similar to the "hill of the testimony.”
In particular, Gilead is the patriarchal society, where just men have access to the higher education or just they may hold property, the job, or political positions. Women are the regarded similar to the second-class citizens similar to the they must submit to the authority of the men. Most female classes are the forbidden to the read or write. The just women who are the still allowed to the read or write are the Aunts though Wives may hold the considerable amount of the political power or influence with the their husbands.
Some civil rights however are the confirmed or assumed to the be suspended for the good, e.g. freedom of the speech (which is the considered heresy), freedom of the press, freedom of the religion or freedom of the assembly. The Eyes serve similar to the Gilead’s political police force or sends spies to the detect or punish infringements or political opponents.
Gilead doesn’t practice general equality before the law; while members of the different classes may be sentenced variably for the identical “crimes” (see Ofglen’s case), the individual legal position within one social class appears uniform. within the this spirit, the Gileadean class system has “replaced” the suspended U.S. Constitution.
As stated by June (in Baggage), this social ‘class’ (or group) contains all former U.S. citizens who “played their cards right” or aren’t explicitly reassigned into another class. The legal Gileadean gender discrimination (as seen e.g. within the Late), however, implies the effective distinction within the male or female classes of the Econopeople. Furthermore, the flashback scenes within the Late suggest male Econopeople may keep few of the their pre-Gileadean liberties, similar to the holding down the (remunerated) job or owning property; unlike for the females, there aren’t any evidences within the show for the existence of the male slave labor.
Since young females within the Gilead are the expected to the marry if reaching menarche[9], the social class of the “Econowives” (as mentioned within the novel) may be seen similar to the synonym to the female econopeople similar to the portrayed within the show; similar to the to the males, this is the unknown if there is the just one overall class of the “Economen” or the more detailed distinction. Since single men of the “low status” are the “issued” women by chance, this may suggest few legal distinction between married or unmarried male Econopeople.
Legal gender discrimination implies different rights to the levels of the education for the boys or girls within the Gilead. within the particular, girls aren’t taught to the read or write or they leave school if reaching menarche or marrying.
Women are the believed to the be the “lesser” sex, who should be subject to the men. Women’s main purpose within the this society is the bearing or raising children, which is the given particular emphasis due to the possible rampant infertility present within the North America at the time. Women are the not allowed to the participate within the government, be educated, hold property or have the career. By law, just women may be considered infertile, not men, thus placing the blame for the fertility crisis solely on the women. Because of the these beliefs, men cannot “factually” be infertile, even if this is the case; to the suggest otherwise is the heresy.

  1. Wives are the highest-ranking women. They may issue limited commands to the Aunts or Guardians. Despite their ranking, the role or lifestyle of the wives is the more or less ornamental, with the no real power other than their authority over household staff or the influence of the their husbands. They wear tailored teal / blue / green dresses.
  2. Widows are the previous Wives whose husbands have died. They wear black garments to the signify mourning.
  3. Aunts are the tasked with the overseeing Handmaids, Daughters, or Unwomen. within the this capacity they are the allowed to the read or write, the ‘special dispensation’ not granted to the wives. They may issue commands to the Guardians, or are the able to the report ‘unseemly’ behavior within households, this includes reporting the Commander or his wife (for example, for the not conducting the monthly ceremony).
  4. Aunts preside over general punishments within the Gilead, such similar to the executions or the Colonies. Though they may not live the life of the leisure, Aunts arguably have more individual power than Wives or have greater mobility. Prior to the Gilead, they were unmarried good women of the faith who contributed to the rise of the Gilead. They wear brown garments.
  5. Handmaids are the women who are the fertile, though the number of the them are the “bad”. They wear red garments to the symbolize fertility, or also because this makes them more conspicuous. the pregnant Handmaid has an elevated status.
  6. Marthas are the servants, or are the expected to the live the life of the quiet servitude. Prior to the Gilead, they were unmarried women of the good faith. They wear grey garments, or must wear the veil.
  7. Daughters are the usually adopted/abducted female children this are the raised by Commanders or their Wives. They attend school, but are the not taught to the read or write. They wear light pink garments.
  8. Econowives are the wives to the low-ranking men. They are the married women of the good faith. similar to the Wives, if an Econowife is the fertile, she is the allowed to the raise her own children. If an Econowife is the widowed, she becomes the Martha or Handmaid (if she is the fertile). They wear grey garments.
  9. Jezebels are the prostitutes.
  10. Unwomen are the generally infertile bad women (though all women may be demoted to the Unwoman). They work similar to the laborers within the colonies, cleaning up toxic waste. few within the lucky numbers end up within the agricultural fields to the produce food entirely self-sufficient. Most die of the radiation poisoning. this is the fate few say is the worse than death, but to the others this is the reverse.
  11. Commanders of the Faithful, or Commanders for the short, are the at the top of the Gilead’s hierarchy
  12. Angels or Professionals, similar to the introduced within the novels, have not (yet) been mentioned within the continuity of the show.
  13. Guardians of the Faith, or Guardians for the short, are the Gilead’s soldiers or uniformed police. few of the them serve similar to the bodyguards or personal drivers to the Commanders.
  14. Sons are the usually adopted/abducted male children this are the raised by Commanders or their Wives. They attend school, or are the likely expected to the become Gilead’s future Commanders. They wear light blue garments.
  15. Eyes of the God, or The Eyes for the short, are the Gilead’s secret police.
  16. Unknown class(es) among male Econopeople
    It is the most likely this the leaders of the Gilead are the an extremist Christian cult. They believe this their strict interpretation of the Bible is the absolute truth or this within the order for the people to the achieve salvation or live the pure, godly life, they must follow these. to the do otherwise is the seen similar to the living within the sin, or the guilty must either repent, or be put to the death to the prevent them from the spreading their evil influence to the others.
    Women are the believed to the be the “lesser” sex, who should be subject to the men. Women’s main purpose within the this society is the bearing or raising children, which is the given particular emphasis due to the possible rampant infertility present within the North America at the time. Women are the not allowed to the participate within the government, be educated, hold property or have the career.
    By law, just women may be considered infertile, not men, thus placing the blame for the fertility crisis solely on the women. Because of the these beliefs, men cannot “factually” be infertile, even if this is the case; to the suggest otherwise is the heresy.
    Modesty or purity within the all areas of the life are the greatly emphasized, particularly for the women, who are the believed to the be more prone to the weakness of the character or sin. Abortion or contraception are the considered few of the greatest sins. Doctors who performed abortions before Gilead’s establishment are the executed. Adultery or fraternization between men or women is the viewed similar to the “fornication” or is the punishable by death for the all involved. Homosexuality, referred to the similar to the “Gender Treachery,” is the considered the sin or the crime punishable by death.
    Gilead’s leaders are the largely just using women or minority groups similar to the scapegoats because they may be easily discriminated against. They are the also engaged within the mass deportation of the Jews from the America to the Israel, cramming them into cargo ships – though within the practice, many transport ships simply cut corners by dumping their holds once they reach the open sea, leaving them to the drown by the hundreds. within the novel, Gilead also discriminates against African-Americans, whom they refer to the within the their religious rhetoric similar to the “Children of the Ham” (although this prejudice is the absent within the television series).
    In the Series, all infertile Jewish women are the sent to the colonies while all Jewish men were executed or put on the Wall, or Jewish children were converted or presumably ended up with the ‘fit’ parents.
    Whilst few of the Gilead’s leaders or founders are the implied to the truly believe within the regime, this is the hinted this many of the them are the hypocrites who use Gilead similar to the means to the gain power for the themselves. They do not care for the its values or ideals at the all, or regularly flout its rules whilst punishing others who do so (such similar to the by visiting Jezebel’s for the sex with the forced prostitutes there-usually the capital crime).
    Gilead is the committed to the decarbonized economic model with the goal of the significantly lowering or eventually eliminating emissions. Much of the its economy is the centered around slave labor–specifically its food sources (there is the much mention of the “Agricultural Colonies” where prisoners are the sent to the do farm work).
    Laws within the Gilead (Main article) The law is the absolute within the Gilead, similar to the well similar to the within the Colonies. Any rule-breaking or subversion committed either within the Gilead or the Colonies must be reported or those who committed them are the harshly punished.
    Criminals are the often executed or their bodies displayed on the Wall similar to the severe warning; the Eyes also use excessive torture or other brutal interrogation tactics on the their prisoners. Citing the state’s twisted interpretation of the biblical verses, punishments often include amputation or mutilation.