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City Reads: The Handmaid’s Tale

October 5, 2017

The Handmaid’s Tale has become one of the buzziest TV shows of the year with its adaptation of the Margaret Atwood 1985 novel by the same name. The Hulu Plus series starring Elisabeth Moss recently carried on its glory by snagging 8 wins at the Emmys Awards. I haven’t had a chance to watch the show yet (does anyone have a Hulu Plus login I can borrow? :D), but I finally found some time to read the original story.

Overview

The novel follows Offred, a Handmaid who lives in a futuristic New England society that has overthrown the United States government. This “utopia” is based off a world following a totalitarianism structure. The Handmaids, in particular, are not allowed to read and their only duty is to carry children for the barren wives of the new leaders. Since this is a new society, Offred and the others still remember when they lived normal lives. They had their own children, husbands, careers, and more importantly, their freedom.

I’ve read a handful of dystopia novels back in high school, but none of them made me so intrigued than Atwood’s novel. Perhaps now that I’m older I have a better understanding of the deeper meanings. Feminism and gender are the main topics in The Handmaid’s Tale. In a world where women have no rights, Atwood is open-minded on her feminist views which makes the readers understand how women are the main victims in this society.

While the incidents in the novel faced by these women are to the extreme, they still face the similar inequalities women are fighting for in today’s modern world. The ambiguity of the novel left me wanting to learn more about how this society came to be. But, Atwood leaves out many explanations. We don’t know why the Handmaids are forbidden to use their real names. We don’t know how the Republic of Gilead exactly came to be. This ambiguity allows readers to be in the shoes of these women who have no idea what’s next in this nightmare they are living in. I think this novel brings these important feminist issues to attention as they continue to be in debates for many years to come.

Favorite Quotes

  • “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
  • “A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”
  • “Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”
  • “Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”
  • “Knowing was a temptation. What you don’t know won’t tempt you.”

What to Read Next

  • 1984 by George Orwell: The year 1984 might be over, but George Orwell’s 1949 classic still resonates with readers today. Take a dive into this haunting utopia if you never got a chance to read it during high school.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: The World Controllers think genetic engineering and brainwashing have helped create a perfect society with happy consumers. Little did they know, a man named Bernard Marx is ready to break free.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: Guy Montag is a fireman that burns books. He never questioned his destruction until he meets his young neighbor, Clarisse.

City Reads is a new monthly series on Lost & Found in the City. Got any recommendations for next month’s book? Share your favorites in the comments below! 

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Author: Katina Beniaris

Born in Chicago, Katina has always been drawn to cities. She spent her college years in the heart of Chicago studying journalism and she travels to various cities every year for new experiences. When she’s not blogging, you can find her catching up on the latest pop culture sensation on Netflix.

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