The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, originally published in 1985. It depicts the fall of the United States government which is replaced by a totalitarian regime, based on Christian principles. Margaret Atwood presents a society which limit the role of women and where women have no rights.
Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in West Berlin and Alabama in the mid-1980s. The novel, published in 1986, quickly became a best-seller.
It is a powerful books which show us how through language ánd control of knowledge, a whole society can be controlled and manipulated.
We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?
I used to think of my body as an instrument, of pleasure, or a means of transportation, or an implement for the accomplishment of my will . . . Now the flesh arranges itself differently. I’m a cloud, congealed around a central object, the shape of a pear, which is hard and more real than I am and glows red within its translucent wrapping.
I try not to think too much. Like other things now, thought must be rationed.
I enjoy the power; power of a dog bone, passive but there.
This is the kind of touch they like: folk art, archaic, made by women, in their spare time, from things that have no further use. A return to traditional values. Waste not want not. I am not being wasted. Why do I want?
The problem wasn’t only with the women, he says. The main problem was with the men. There was nothing for them anymore.
There are other women with baskets, some in red, some in the dull green of the Marthas, some in the striped dresses, red and blue and green and cheap and skimp, that mark the women of the poorer men. Econowives, they’re called. These women are not divided into functions. They have to do everything; if they can.
Tell, rather than write, because I have nothing to write with and writing is in any case forbidden. But if it’s a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone. You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else.
There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.
I would like to believe this is a story I’m telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance.