18 of 52 – The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve finished a book. I’ve had a lot of deadlines for uni so haven’t had much motivation to read in the times that I could chill out. But I’ve finally finished The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, 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, dire warning, and tour de force.

Ahh I loved it! It is an extravagant extrapolation and I wouldn’t consider it something that could happen, but you can see small truths in it. I think it’s interesting how the Aunts emphasised being free from, rather than free to. Of course this is a feminist critique of religious ideology, but I think it also puts into perspective the fact that although what some conservative religious fanatics want for women is horrible, they themselves do see what they do as something for women. For example banning of pornography might help to de-objectify women and lead to less sexual violence. I’m not saying that’s true, but it’s the logic they might use.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It was an exaggeration, it was satire, and it was beautifully so.

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