Genre: Fiction, dystopian.
Themes: Power, language, control
(From Goodreads): Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and hiswife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because womenare no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commandermakes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids arevalued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived andmade love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had ajob, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, direwarning, andliterary tour de force.”
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is truly a work of literary art. It still baffles me that this was written in the 1980s, but yet it fits perfectly with what’s going on in our world today. How does Margaret Atwood do it? Does she have some kind of rare, magical writing ability? (The answer is yes).
This novel broke my heart over and over again. You can just feel everything Offred felt, from being stripped of her status to the painstakingly long, boring days she exits through. I don’t even want to use the word “live,” because she isn’t living. She’s just passing each day, trapped in her thoughts and unable to speak her mind. A prisoner, I guess I should say.
Is it worse to be a prisoner behind bars, or a prisoner who is free to go within a certain boundary, as long as they’re dressed and act a certain way?
What I find so intriguing about this book is that, no matter how perfect a system may seem, corruption and deception is always going to be a strong, underlying force that only a select few will know about. The normal world was messed up, which is why it was changed to a system that encouraged procreation and submission. But it’s the normal world that encouraged promiscuous lifestyle choices, which is what corrupts the new-age.
In other words:
The normal world was changed because it didn’t help the future of the human race. The new world is corrupted with normal world values. Basically, no matter what happens, we are all generally f****d over.
When reading “The Handmaid’s Tale,” you really have to pay attention to the language used. There’s so much innuendo between the lines, and I’m sure I didn’t catch all of it. If you’re an English major, or have studied one, then this book is definitely right up your alley, because you (and I), have been trained to look for these kind of messages.
I really think this is a book not to be missed. I’m glad it’s gained recent attention since it was made into a TV series, which is so smart. We can use today’s world to bring back these older books that have values and lessons crucial to us in our current state of affairs.
Bravo, Margaret Atwood.