Tuesday, January 10, 2012
[Review] The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the story of a future dystopia where women are treated as second-rate citizens with no rights and a choosen few, the handmaids, are only valued because of their ability to conceive children. The women are separated into classes, but still the women in this story have been robbed of their voices and their rights.
Women no longer have sovereignty over their bodies. They are no longer allowed to read, own property, money, anything. The story is told through the eyes of Offred, a handmaid, who can still remember the time before.
The handmaid's job is to bear children for the Commanders and their Wives. They're seen as "valued assests" of their country, but it's obvious that most of the other women in the society, especially the wives see them as nothing more than whores.
These women are brainwashed, led to believe that many things we see as an assault on women, such as rape, is really the women's fault. They wanted it. They deserved what they got. It's horrifying reading about these women being treated like animals.
While the story is largely about the handmaids, Offred's observations of the other women in the society show you that they're really all trapped, regardless of status. They're all treated second-rate, yet instead of banding together, they buy into the propaganda that women should be seen and not heard.
Offred doesn't just tell the story of the handmaids. She tells the story of her life before becoming a handmaid, how she became a handmaid, people she remembered in her life before, the way life was before. It's all intricately woven together in one tale.
I haven't read a story in a long time that's haunted and chilled me like this story. I'm an avid horror reader, but the story of this society really disturbed me. It left me with a lot to think about, and the ending itself was haunting.
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