Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Handmaid's Tale (novel)

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid living in Gilead, a fictional futuristic city. The President of the US, as well as the rest of the government, has been assassinated, and the US has been taken over by a religious regime under which women are forbidden to read or learn and are valued only for their capacity for reproduction. Offred, like every other woman of childbearing age and ability, has been torn from her family, her husband likely killed, her daughter stolen and given to a new family, and placed at her "post" where she is expected to produce offspring for her Commander. The Handmaids are, in fact, forced into surrogacy, becoming pregnant with their Commanders' babies and then forced to give their babies over to their Commander and his wife. This is a time of public executions and extreme oppression; a time in which women are not allowed to read, are forced to cover themselves from head to toe, are forbidden from making friends or forging any attachments at all. In the end. the reader is given the opportunity to at least wonder if Offred succeeded in escaping this hell and starting a new life elsewhere; the question is never answered definitively.

I didn't really enjoy the story. It was well-written to be sure, but I found it strange, dark, and depressing. I think it's categorized as a must-read, though, so if anyone wants my copy, say the word.

1 comment:

  1. I recently finished reading a more recent dystopian Atwood novel, The Year of the Flood. Didn't care for that one. Apparently Atwood doesn't seem to hold much hope out for the future of humanity!