The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood

There is something about stories that magnify and illuminate the concept of social control that spooks me. I think they yield their power by highlighting elements vaguely feared by readers and bringing them to life as to turn that fear into terror. Whether it be the anxiety you feel when a police car is next to you at traffic lights, the thought of the Nazi or Pole Pot regime or what can happen when Communism takes a turn, however you look at it social control is a scary thought.
The Handmaids Tale exists in the same realm as George Orwells 1984 and Animal Farm and Aldous Huxleys Brave New World . If you have read any of these you’ll know what I mean. In each instance, the general population is controlled, monitored and punished as higher authorities see fit. The Handmaids Tale is unique in that is is from a women’s perspective and the regime that is detailed bases its principles on obscure interpretations from passages in the bible.
Without ruining too much, Atwood had me convinced for almost 5 minutes that what she had written about was long lost, though true history. As troubling as that was, the reality is that its themes are true. Things like this are happening in the world as we speak, women are oppressed whether it be in far away countries or in our own neighbourhood. Just because it isn’t happening to us doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
The book didn’t detail it’s message or intent. It just left you to stew the principles and figure out what it means to you. For me I felt it told the story of complacency. When we get comfortable in this world and hand over our power we leave ourselves open to an array of consequences. It’s not about paranoia, it’s about being aware, maintain our independence and making sure we are active not passive thinkers.
Rating: 5 Stars