The Handmaid’s Tale
By: Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a chilling story about a dystopian society after an outside force takes over the United States government. A group of powerful men and their wives want to take society back to a traditional way of life where women exist only to conceive children and support their husbands. This place is called Gilead and has replaced the Northeastern part of the United States. When the Commanders’ (the leaders of Gilead) wives are not able to get pregnant, handmaids are used to conceive babies with the Commanders. If the handmaids are not able to conceive, they are sent to a radioactive wasteland that will inevitably kill them. The handmaids were just normal, fertile women who were taken by the Guardians because of their sins to become handmaids. Offred is one of the unlucky women who was taken into Gilead to become a handmaid to one of the most powerful Commanders in Gilead.
Offred is not her real name. In fact, we never officially find out what Offred’s name was “before.” The story centers around her and her need to escape to find her husband and daughter. Throughout Offred’s story, we learn about the horrific way the handmaids are treated in this society and the way they are treated as objects instead of people with feelings and needs. The Handmaid’s Tale is more relevant today than ever, with women fighting for equality in all walks of life. It is a sad story and a somewhat scary one.
The Handmaid’s Tale was written in 1984, but became a hit television series on Hulu in April 2017. I watched the show and immediately wanted to read the book. Hulu created a beautiful adaptation of the book, and even takes the story further than the book does. I’d suggest that you read the book before you watch the show because of the extra storylines in the show. I found myself waiting for parts I had seen in the show while reading the book, but they never happened. I think that Margaret Atwood left so much to the imagination in her book on purpose. She wants the reader to infer on her own what happens to Offred. Although some people might not like the book’s lack of closure, I found it compelling. This made the book real. Life doesn’t always have closure. In fact, there is rarely closure in life. You just have to keep on living and fighting for what is right. That’s what this book said to me. If you don’t like how things are, don’t stop fighting until you are happy.
I would recommend this book over and over again. Even though it was a bit depressing, it opened up my mind to the extreme of what could happen in this country. Women are fighters and The Handmaid’s Tale proved that.