Offred and the rest of the Handmaids greet and say goodbye to one another by uttering a very specific phrase in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale: “Under His Eye.” It has a bit of a double meaning.
The phrase is also used frequently in Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, which Hulu’s latest project is based on. “Under His Eye” refers to the Christian God, as God is supposedly always watching the Handmaids and their every move, since the Republic of Gilead, the extremist religious society they live in, is “blessed.” The phrase also refers to the powers that be, the very human elements of Gilead’s society. It’s a term that has religious overtones and painfully Big Brother-esque undertones.
See, the Eye is the Republic of Gilead’s secret police. Members of the Eye are spies in various houses and are more than happy to turn in dissenters, traitors, and nonbelievers to the system. Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) warns Offred (Elisabeth Moss) that there is an Eye in Commander Waterford’s house, meaning there’s a spy who would happily report Offred to the secret police. Audiences later see Ofglen being taken away by members of the Eye, proving the terrifying power the group has over Gilead.
At the end of the day, “Under His Eye” is a reminder for the Handmaids. It’s a warning to their shopping partners and, often, a sanctimonious reminder to themselves. They are constantly being monitored by both a God who has, essentially, forsaken them to be lesser-than and the society that forced them into these roles. It’s a fear tactic. And, despite always being watched, they are utterly alone.
The Handmaid’s Tale is now streaming on Hulu.