3.4 Critical Review- The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale- Margaret Atwood

One of the strongest and most valuable themes and messages that is demonstrated in this narrative is the importance of freedom of values and humanity as a whole. This novel is seen as a somewhat warning by Margaret Atwood of what could be if we continue as we are.It is stating how the future may pan out if we don’t put an end to our ways. If we don’t start reflecting on how society and humanity has begun to evolve then there will be vicious repercussions. “A mistake repeated more than once is a decision” this is the case in how humanity does not seem to learn from the mistakes it has created.  In The Handmaid’s Tale written by Margaret Atwood, we are taken through the eyes of Offred, who is the protagonist of the novel. The Handmaid’s Tale focuses on a totalitarian theocratic regime that takes away power from women. In the republican society known as “Gilead” women no longer have any control, any freedom or any rights. They are denied to be who they used to be as well as being controlled and governed by men. Their identity has been forgotten and they are to live as nothing but a face, trying to steal back what was stolen from them.

This book in itself creates a terrifying yet accurate ordeal of the future. The book is short on developing characterisation, with only few but important characters and holds onto the idea of cynicism. It sets a dark scene of a fixed feminist perspective of an apocalypse. Freedom of values is something that all should be able to hold onto, not something where it should be stripped away. The value of a name, an identity, a life and a vision, these are what are taken and lost in The Handmaid’s Tale. Details of Atwood’s newly formed anti-Utopia state are seen in other novels that express the same ideas, such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1932 and George Orwell’s 1984. Those two novels have come to be seen as fiercely moral tracts that jarred their readers to awaken them. Will Atwood, as different from Huxley and Orwell as they were from each other, join them in the accepted ranks of those disguised idealists who image the future as a nightmare in order that it may remain just that of a fantasy?

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The main reason hat Atwood wrote the handmaid’s tale was to make us think about how the world would be viewed in years to come. Almost seen as some sort of warning of the foundation that humanity would eventually sit upon as well as act. Also how people would convey information, and that racial oppression could lead to a rebellion and the shifts in morals

Was concerned about the 1980’s debates on feminist attitudes, specifically toward sexuality and pornography. Feminists protesting against the demanding nature or pornography were unnerved by religious groups seeing to ban pornography in order to “protect women” This idea of religious zealots restricting women’s freedom for “protective” reasons is quite prominent in Atwood’s work.

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