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…
Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.
“Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum” (Don’t let the bastards grind you down)
Finally got to read the Queen of dystopian novel’s work and i regretted for not picking this up earlier.
In this world created by Margaret Atwood, the infertility rate is very high. To solve this problem, a group of extremists took over America and created the Republic of Gilead whereby they aimed to go back to the traditional values in order to increase the fertility rate to save mankind. They blame women (and homosexuality) as the cause of infertility. Hence, in the Republic of Gilead, women, are just properties to men. They are not allowed to work, to read, to own property, to speak out, and to meddle into the affairs of men/the country. The social system of Gilead consists of the Commanders (men who rule / administer the country) with their Wives (most of them are infertile), the Aunts (who trained Handmaids), the Guardians (who are sort of like drivers or bodyguards to the Commanders), the Eyes (spies for the Commanders), the Angels (who are like armies of Gilead), the Marthas (slaves or maids) and the Handmaids (whose role and destiny, according to God, is to procreate and act as a vessel for the Commander and his Wife’s child). This story was narrated by Offred, a Handmaid of Gilead and she took us through the oppressive state of women in Gilead.
In short, this world is super scary, super sick and disgusting. This story is not for the faint-hearted. I am currently watching this TV series, which is really good, but I think the book is even scarier. The power of words and short sentences used by Margaret Atwood with her beautiful writing, makes the whole oppressive situation so descriptive and eery. Speaking of Margaret Atwood’s writing, omg, it is so beautiful, descriptive and impeccable! Offred’s state of mind in this disgusting country was perfectly described by Atwood. I can’t imagine what Margaret Atwood was thinking when she wrote this book with such a scary but relevant concept and published it in 1986. After more than 30 years, i think this book is still relevant. Apart from issues such as feminism, surrogacy, and homosexuality, to me, this story serves as a warning to us as it showcases the effects of religion extremism. It depicts what will happen in future if religion extremists or close minded group of people took over the world.
It’s scary. And I don’t think anyone can live in this world. Apart from the open ended ending of this book (which is a little problematic for me), I still think that this book deserves a 5/5 star read and it is a must read for everyone!
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