The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel written by Margaret Atwood in 1985. The book tells the story of a middle aged woman who is trapped in a dystopian tufter, in which she is a handmaid, which means it is her job to carry and bare children for the Commanders, who’s wives are barren. This book was written as a warning to readers about the pattern of human nature. She was careful in telling her story, making sure to keep to facts, not writing anything that had not yet happened. This is to add authenticity to her work, to insure that it was entirely possible that this story could be our future. Atwood uses many techniques to execute her ideas in a way that brings her world and her character to life. I am going to write a critical review of this novel, focusing on the suppression of minority groups, the narration of the story, and the meaning behind the writing.
There is power in the written word. To create it and consume it grounds us, it binds us the the Earth, and to others. To not have access to is cuts us off from others’ thoughts. There is also power that comes from gaining knowledge through reading. The ability to attain new information is a large part of how we grow and evolve as humans. The be cut off from that is to be cut off from our evolution, to be stuck in the same place. Unable to progress forward. This is a powerful tool of manipulation for those who do not want certain minorities to progress in society. Furthermore, those with the power to control written word can alter the facts, without being questioned my those who do not have access to it. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the Handmaids are forbidden from reading and writing, this is an effective tool of oppression, as when the handmaids are told they are doing the lords work, they are unable to confirm this, as they are forbidden from reading the Bible. they have to take their oppressors word for it.This puts the oppressors in a prime position to manipulate the words of the lord to control the handmaids.
The Handmaid’s Tale was made as a warning to it’s readers about a seemingly impending future. Margaret Atwood never wrote about anything that had not happened before, from women sterile due to pollution, to not being able to walk alone out of the house. I would like to invite a quote from V for Vendetta to help summarising this idea. “I felt like I could see everything that happened, and everything that is going to happen. It was like a perfect pattern, laid out in front of me. And I realised we’re all part of it, and all trapped by it.” The idea is that, if it happened once, it can surely happen again. like the world is caught in a circle, forever going up and down, chasing it’s tale around and around. Actions have consequences, as well as being complicit has consequences. Every action is part of a pattern that leads to one inevitable conclusion. Margret simply condensed those ideas into one story. A future that is very possible for us if we remain on our current course. Already in the world we are seeing people with there rights taken away from them, specifically women, which was the group oppressed in the Novel. As well as hate crimes against minority groups such as gay people.
The handmaids are given the names of their Commanders, Ofglen = Of Glen, Offred = Of Fred.This is a way to show who the maids belong to, as well as a way to passively suppress their identity. This is only one of the many tools used to slowly strip he handmaids of a sense of self. Some methods are uniform, plain rooms, and uniforms. Making them equal, and indifferent to each other. It is easier for the suppressors, as not only can they then treat all Handmaids the same, but that Handmaids are compliant, giving up their individuality. Also, teaching the girls to walk with their head’s down, teaches submissiveness, and inferiority, as well as forbid them from looking directly at anyone, or anything, encouraging them not to care about their appearance, further distressing they’re sense of self.
the novel is written in first person to help us realise the day to day life of the handmaid, we get to almost see her world through her eyes. Experiencing her inner monologue as well, which provides a contrast of what she actually thinks, which shows the behaviours and opinions she has been taught to suppress. And how she has learned to live inside her mind as a means to survive. Sharing her true thoughts with only herself. this also shows how incredibly isolated she is from the outside world, as her true self exists only inside her mind. We also get flash backs from her past, allowing us to slowly build an opinion on who she is/was as a person, and how the world operated before the era of the handmaids. We see that she had life, with friends, a husband, and daughter, people she cares about, and lost. It shows us how hard the transition was for her, as she lost everyone close to her, and she had to live and study with people who are part of the system responsible for the death of her loved ones.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel written by Margaret Atwood in 1985. The book tells the story of a middle aged woman who is trapped in a dystopian tufter, in which she is a handmaid, which means it is her job to carry and bare children for the Commanders, who’s wives are barren. This book was written as a warning to readers about the pattern of human nature. She was careful in telling her story, making sure to keep to facts, not writing anything that had not yet happened. This is to add authenticity to her work, to insure that it was entirely possible that this story could be our future, a subject I touched on. Atwood uses many techniques to execute her ideas in a way that brings her world and her character to life. I am have to written a critical review of this novel, focusing on the suppression of minority groups, especially the means in which they were suppressed, the narration of the story, and how that helps us to understand her character, and the story, and the meaning behind the writing, and what it could mean for your future.