Judging by the title of this post you are probably all wondering how old I am… well you won’t have to Google it since The Handmaid’s Tale came out in 1985, which make me around 30 years old. Now that you know of my age, do you think you will be judging my reading choices more harshly now? Lol! I do not remember much that happened in 1985, since I was just a baby but this book made quite the stir and hasn’t really stopped since. People today still refer to The Handmaid’s Tale as a scary book, and has often been banned in various institutions and countries. With that said, it is also one of the books that is encouraged women to read.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a story that takes place in future America, where the government has been extinguished and a hype religious group has taken over power. As a result, the new government have turned America into an anti-feminist, fascist state where women have no rights and are blamed for cause of infertility in the country. Bring in Kate, or Offred, who is a Handmaid of the state whose job is to birth and bear children into the world through various men. She has become a sex slave and is used as a vessel to procreate children for wealthier families who are barren. Her body does not belong to her but to the family she serves and the sect of Handmaidens she is a part of. Kate conflicted with an old life before the fascist take over, and her new life of carrying a child for a man of power, The Commander, who can never be hers. Struggling with her feelings and her role in his home, Kate is torn between what she wants and her duty as a Handmaiden. The Commander and Kate are at the brink of breaking more than one law, which may result in getting both of them killed.
Many of the themes from the book are still clear in our current way of life, which is why it is still a book of significance even if it was written over 30 years ago. The fascist government proceeds to take away all the rights the women once had; they cannot hold jobs, they cannot have bank accounts, they cannot vote, they cannot read, and they cannot own anything. The government has control over their lives and their bodies; they choose who will procreate and who will not. It is scary to see that similarities between this story and the current struggle in the world are in tune with each other. Women today are still fighting for equality in the world, maybe we have more liberties than those before us but there is still a gap between the sexes in today’s society. In some countries still women do not have the same rights as we have in the 1st world countries, which is devastating to see and hear about. With the problems of today’s government every present, it is easy to see where Atwood was going with this novel. Her writing is not so out there that it would not seem like a possibility for this future coming to light.
I have to be honest when I say that this book scared me, but I was equally intrigued by it. What scared me the most was that the future Atwood shows in her novel is a possibility of the future. It did not seem out of line that something like this could happen sometime in my lifetime. I was also intrigued to see how the future would picture women and the role we would play. I did notice that there was many religious content throughout the novel, and how the new government used these religious tendencies to make this happen. As someone who is a Christian, it breaks my heart to see the way people twist the Bible to say what they want it to say, instead of just reading it as it was meant to be read. I do not think I would be able to live in a world built on religious rule and not be allowed to read, and have a life was no longer my own. I would hope that our future does not end up like the one in her novel, and I hope that we see our mistakes now and try to fix them. I loved The Handmaid’s Tale, it may have scared the crap out of me but I did enjoy it none the less. Atwood’s wright is brilliant, poignant, and draws light to problems of the world. She directs her writing to issues of the modern world, and her stories are not for the faint of heart. Her books will cause a reader to think and ponder the novel even after finishing it weeks/months/years later. This story is not sunshine and rainbow, but fiction teetering towards fact. If you are into the possible future novels, or are a fan of banned books, then you need to read this!
Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale or another book that has been banned? Was there a book that scared you to see where our future may end up? Comment below with your thoughts.
Buy on Amazon: The Handmaid’s Tale
PS- Since writing this, I have received Margaret Atwood’s new book The Heart Goes Last, which is such an interesting concept and I can’t wait to dive into her book. I think I have become an Atwood fan!