what i love about the last episode of the handmaid’s tale is how intricate it can be in the nuances of the message they’re trying to push.
look at eden. she was a young, pious, innocent girl who did everything she believed that was righteous of her. she’s a religious girl with a lot of faith, no one can doubt that. it is key to her identity.
and naturally, if you look at the handmaid’s tale at a surface, superficial level, you blame religion as the sole reason for human suffering. but the last episode refutes that.
eden is not only a religious girl but she’s a girl with no choice in any aspects of her life, like all the other women in the show. she’s a child, forced into a marriage with a much older man she does not love, and has been deprived of autonomy and life experience. all state-ordered by men in power, entitlement at its finest
the only choice eden ever makes in her life is running away with the one she loves. a choice that represents female desire, that is immediately condemned in the eyes of gilead. the one who wishes punishment by death upon her the most wasn’t even her husband, nick. it was waterford- an outsider whose fragility was threatened by a little girl who exercised decision and thought over her own fate.
often female desire is considered unlawful or “sinful.” any choice a women makes based on what she wants, threatens the male view of piety. threatens the fragile ego of the men in power.
but even with her faith, she does not believe it is sinful. she reinterprets christianity in gilead, by saying love is what is ordered by the divine.
gilead interprets religion as a means to reinforce and justify internal misogyny, homophobia, and the patriarchy
eden reinterpreted religion for love and her faith. in her eyes, a loveless marriage with nick is not blessed nor valid bc it is not of her own will.
honestly, because men are in power, it is their interpretation on the forefront of everything and women are not given a voice in the matter. this happens today across so many scales.
i really loved that they showed the drastic dichotomy of a woman of faith between all the horrible women like aunt lydia and serena to eden who was punished for displaying an ounce of autonomy and defiance in the name of love.
in the end of the episode, gilead’s officier order her and her lover to “renounce your sins and plead for his mercy” and you know what this girl does?
she says a bible quote (reinterprets), does not apologize publicly, and firmly believes love conquers all. i think that is beyond beautiful.
i never cared for eden before but she represents martyrdom for all the women who had faith and believed in love and humanity as a mindset in a misogynistic society. those who mock and disregard her views for idiocy are no better than those in gilead who did the same.
essentially this episode depicts the distinction between religion and misogyny. it shows that female desire and religion are not at odds with one another and that hatred does not have to be embedded in religion. it is dependent on who is the believer and their interpretation, which is something many people do not grasp: throwing unconstructive blame amok, not addressing the root of the problem which is internal misogyny and toxic masculinity in a state-sanctioned supremacist form.