Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale ~ Reviewed by Elizabeth Barnes

"We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories."

The Handmaid's Tale

Image result for 5 out of 5 stars

Imagine this: You are a woman, and you have no name. Your name has been taken from you. All identity and individuality vanished. Your name has been replaced by the word Of and the first name of your Master. You are Offred, Ofglen, Ofcharles, you are nobody, you belong to a man who's not your husband, but someone who uses your body as a vessel for procreation. If you do not provide a child, you are banished to the Colonies, to clear away the toxic mud and die.

This is the frightening world of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale". Strongly echoing George Orwell's "1984", we are witnessing the USA that established a totalitarian government. Who are the ones in power now? The Army? The Church? The two combined? Whoever they are, one of  their aims is to turn women into creatures that are no longer considered human beings, but something a little superior to animals. 

The only way for Offred to escape her reality is through her mind. Her thoughts and memories of an era of freedom. She isn't brainwashed, just as Winston wasn't brainwashed. The new States with their doctrines and the Ministry of Truth have failed to contaminate every single soul. There are some who remember and wish for the civilized world of the past, where woman had identity and independence, where love wasn't a crime punished by death.

Offred listens to her heart only at the thought of her daughter for whom she hasn't lost hope that she is alive. It is the only way to keep her sanity, amidst the violence of her society. There is violence towards the women who are humiliated, punished for transgression and executed, there is violence towards the men who are believed to be members of the Opposition. They are killed under false pretenses, in a way that turns the repressed women into beasts.

"The Handmaid's Tale" is a classic of our times. Especially in our society today with our current leaders. Unlike Orwell's bleak universe in "1984", Atwood allows a brief glimpse of hope, makes us think that all is not lost, that there are some who can fight against hell and retain their sanity.

I give this book an outstanding 5 out of 5 stars!   

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