“Hunger Games”, “Divergent”, “The Maze Runner” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”. What do they all have in common? They all tell the story of dystopian societies. You know what else? This genre is very popular today (stating the obvious). Atwood’s novel however was written way back in the year of 1985.
Let’s go off subject for a second. What was the world like during that year?? Microsoft released the first version of Windows, Windows 1.0, Compact Discs were introduced to Americans (you know, the form of music that used to be sold at music stores which are becoming obsolete like video stores), gas was $1.09 average a gallon, that was the last year the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl, my brother and I were sporting the Jim McMahon ‘do, and we were living in Hawaii. Oh, I miss you tropical paradise.
June 25, 2195, “The Handmaid’s Tale” describes a dystopian society that centers around surrogates that preform the childbearing duties of the barren wives for the leaders of the new government of “The Republic of Gilead.” With the previous corrupt government overthrown, the new regime attempts to right the wrongs by reverting back to a biblical based system. Jobs, bank accounts, and any possessions are taken away from most women and they are forced to lead submissive roles to men. The misdeeds of the men and women before and after the formation of the new government, were written on a sign that dangles over the necks of the hanged perpetrators who are perched on “The Wall” for all to see. One of the misdeeds includes “gender treachery”. I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.
The story follows a handmaid by the name of Offred who was given to a Commander as his future childbearing surrogate. We read her story of what happens when she was seized by the new government and her new life is like within the confines of this dysfunctional society.
This book was ahead of its time. The central figure of a woman who isn’t interested in playing along with the new dystopian society goes quite well with the novels I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph. Along with being on my list of 1001 books, it was included as Good Reads, “50 books that will change your life.” I for one enjoyed reading it but not to the extent that I would include it on my top fifty as of yet.