2

I have read the first four novels of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series where Roland Deschain comes from the kingdom of Gilead. Although I have not read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, I have noticed that this novel takes place in the Republic of Gilead.

Is there any connection between Gilead in the two works? Perhaps Atwood was inspired by King (as far as I can tell, King's The Gunslinger was published in 1982 - before Atwood's novel in 1985)? Perhaps the two authors were inspired by the same third source?

  • 9
    I haven't read The Dark Tower but my guess is that they're both inspired by the same Biblical allusion. – MissMonicaE Jan 9 '18 at 14:04
  • 1
    @MissMonicaE Which one is that? I don't know the Bible that well ;-) – Thomas Arildsen Jan 9 '18 at 17:12
  • 5
  • 2
    Sir Galahad. "Galahad was the natural son of Launcelot. His name may be of Welsh origin or come from the place name Gilead in Palestine." I'd assume the connection is the Arthurian Legend, but I haven't read Atwood. – Mazura Jan 9 '18 at 23:39
12

In both cases the name derives from the biblical location "Gilead" which is described as part of ancient Israel (though now on the East Bank of the River Jordan and within the Kingdom of Jordan)

In the bible, it is a borderland peopled by the tribes of Manasseh, Reuben and Gad bordering the lands of the Moabites and Ammonites, and so a site of battles between tribes and sects. It was a hilly and rocky land, peopled by Israelites but far from the political centre in Jerusalem. It was the badlands of old Israel.

It is to this place that Atwood and King both allude. Atwood names her theocratic state as a region of ancient Israel, as its founders believe that they are the new frontier of the Land of God. King seems to allude to it as a distant land where strange things may happen, and is perhaps influenced by Arthurian Legend (through the name Galahad) and the crusaders who established fiefdoms in the region.

1

Margaret Atwood and Stephen King certainly appreciate each others' work and as far as I know both are friends of each other too and have met. That said, both Gileads have both differences (In The Handmaid's Tale, it is a near future misogynistic dictatorship akin to a worst case scenario of current America gone off the rails; in The Dark Tower, it is a fantasy world with influences from Arthurian and Atlantis legends) and similarities (dominance of a hierarchy and a wall enclosing it). Gilead is a biblical place originally in what is now Jordan. It is also a very common name in America. A place both writers would be familiar with is Gilead, a town in Maine.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.