Today is day three of Banned Books Week, and I’m featuring a controversial book each day to celebrate. Today’s book is The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.
“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.”
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a feminist classic. It features a dystopian America with a bleak look at what could come of a fertility crisis and a male-dominated, hyper-conservative society. This novel is a particularly frightening dystopia due to its believability. The Handmaid’s Tale has been banned for its ostensibly anti-Christian themes.
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…
The Handmaid’s Tale features women in a variety of roles, while they are all under the thumb of Gilead in one way or another. Offred has relatively little privilege as a Handmaid. Comparatively, to what extent would you consider Wives or Aunts to be victims in Gilead? Discuss in the comments!