“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”
The story and events in The Handmaid’s Tale are so unsettling. So severely unsettling. Especially reading it as a woman myself. Even though the story is fiction, it is terrifying to think something like that could happen in a “normal” society like what we have now in 2017.
The reason for this new society in The Handmaid’s Tale is the birthrate has dropped too low, so the world’s population is no longer replacing itself, therefore, certain rules have been put into place to help increase the population. Of course, it becomes a severely oppressive society, mainly for women, but everyone suffers. Human rights themselves are severely limited, but women’s rights are almost nonexistent. Women aren’t even allowed to read. The story follows a woman, Offred, and her experiences in this new world as a handmaiden. We learn about what her life was like before she was a handmaiden as well.
One of the most intriguing aspects of The Handmaid’s Tale is how this oppression is still in its first generation. The world is not like in The Hunger Games when the Districts and the Capitol have been around for as long as Katniss can remember and she doesn’t really know what happened to make them into what they are. The societal changes in The Handmaid’s Tale are relatively new, with Offred still remembering the life she had before she was a handmaiden, because I think this new society has been around for less than 10 years (I could be wrong, please let me know). Having that knowledge of “life before” fresh in her mind creates a whole different dynamic within the story and within Offred herself.
One of my favorite things about stories like this, with dystopian, oppressive societies, is how no matter what the leaders think, there is always a rebellion. I like the basic idea that people cannot be controlled and shaped into whatever they want. As a whole, we do not blindly follow those in charge; we disagree, we question, we challenge, and we resist. These qualities give me hope for our own future.
I will leave you with my favorite piece of advice from literature,“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
How did reading The Handmaid’s Tale make you feel?