Handmaid\'s Tale By Offred
Early in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, Offred says, after having seen a group of

Japanese women wearing short skirts, rather than the typical, compulsory dress
of Gilead: "We are fascinated, but also repelled. They seem undressed. It
has taken so little time to change our minds about things like this" This
illustrates how the minds of the population have been manipulated to make them
comply with the Government’s views. Like in most totalitarian societies, the

Gilead Government uses propaganda to manipulate the people’s minds into
following their ideologies and supporting the government. The propaganda methods
depicted in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ are also similar to those used in
totalitarian governments of this century. Propaganda in the novel concentrates
mainly on women, as they are the elements of society that have lost the most due
to the establishment of the new government and they must therefore be controlled
and convinced the most. I will now examine some of the methods of propaganda
used to persuade women, and try to explain their purposes and effects. The

Gilead society is based on one of the many possible interpretations of the
biblical philosophy. The bible being a very respected, trusted and followed
source for many people in America, explaining the new laws, such as compulsory
surrogacy, in terms of biblical precedent makes it easier for people to believe
they are justified. This hypocritical use of the bible is also shown by the fact
that non-biblical elements are included in the Gilead philosophy as sayings from
saints. The quote "from each according to her ability, to each according to
his needs" for, example is attributed to St. Paul, while it is in fact an
adaptation of a Marxist ideal. Many names of people and places also have
religious connotations: Guards are called "Angels", the indoctrination
centre the "Rachel and Leah Centre" and stores are called "Milk and

Honey" or "Loaves and Fishes". This is to insist on the fact that the

Gilead society is a Godly society and therefore, it’s actions and policies are
good and anything that would go against it would be sinful. Women in Gilead have
to wear a special uniform depending on their social rank, the handmaids are in
red, the wives in powder blue and the aunts in brown. The effect of this is to
create a loss of individuality by reminding women that they are now only
considered by the role they occupy. For the handmaids, and to a lesser extent
other women, this also served the purpose of making it difficult for them to be
recognised by people they once knew, thus cutting them for their past. The white
scarf serves that same purpose and it also makes it difficult for the handmaids
to see their surrounding. Women in Gilead are forbidden to read or write which
helps in censuring the information they receive, prevents them from
communicating and limits their freedom of expression and thinking. Even public
signs and billboards have been replaced by images and icons as they are
considered more safe than actual words who would be "too much of a
temptation". Signs with a ‘Red Hexagon’ mean STOP and a Huge Golden Lily
is the sign for "Lilies in the Field" shop. In the few cases when women are
allowed written language to be viewed, the language functions as propaganda,
furthering the message already drilled in the minds of the Handmaids. Large
banners proclaim: "Women’s Prayvaganza Today" and "God is a National

Resource" Knowing that the Handmaids are desperate for any written or verbal
information, leaders of this society have turned this to their advantage,
knowing that their propaganda will be devoured greedily by it’s citizens.

Banishing writing and reading is not the only form of censorship in Gilead. The
only way for women to get information is by watching television or through
dangerous underground networks. It is understood that the news available through
the media is highly censored. As Offred says: "They only show us victories,
never defeats. . . . [The male newscaster] tells us what we long to believe.

He\'s very convincing" The media presents the information in such way that
the government is shown as the ‘good guy’. This is called ‘white
propaganda’, it’s attempt is to build credibility within the audience. The

Gilead state has set precise rules on when women should and should not speak.

Because of that, private conversation has been banned by the individual
speakers. Women are afraid to speak to each other because many people in Gilead
are spies and talking too openly could lead to their being