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 valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years 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 . . .
I’m sorry there’s so much pain in this story. I’m sorry it’s in fragments, like a body caught in crossfire or pulled apart by force. But there’s nothing I can do to change it. I’ve tried to put some good things in as well.
The Handmaid’s Tale is an incredibly thought-provoking novel, but one that is also genuinely scary as well. It may be set in a dystopian world, but one that ours is uncomfortably close to — now more than ever.
Atwood has stated previously that all of the themes in this novel and the attitudes towards women came from real historical events, and so I think it’s devastating that the novel also displays the same attitudes towards women in our own modern society — be it 1985 when this book was first published, or 2022.
I find it so disgusting that in this novel women are valued only for their ability to reproduce, and this is — somehow — the same conversation and beliefs we are having today! It really goes to show that women’s place in society has had no meaningful change in all of human history, but particularly in the almost 40 years since this book was first published. Our current society has regressed and is basically Gilead in all but name.
Offred is a fascinating character and one that you can’t help but feel for as you explore this world with her. She really shows the horrors of this society and what the world has become. Her narration was emotional and devastating.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a fictional example of what happens when a society, run by the patriarchy, dictates what women should do with their own bodies — and unfortunately no-one listened.