Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - Review

Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a dystopian novel about a future country in which religious, puritanical depots have taken over the government. Human reproduction is intensely regulated by setting up a system in which  procreating surrogates called “handmaids” are taken into the households of government officials called “commanders”. These commanders have wives who oversee the insemination of the maternal surrogates by their husbands in a highly controlled depersonalized manner. These handmaids are under almost constant surveillance to assure their obedience and compliance with the expectations and requirements of the commanders and their wives.


The premise for this narrative is highly contrived and unrealistic. The characters are stilted, robotic, and predictable. The tone of the narrative is paranoid, secretive and dark. This is not an enjoyable book to read because it is often tedious, unnecessarily detailed, and very slow in plot development with redundant scenes laboriously described.


There is little to learn from reading this story other than the preposterous possible consequences of puritanical sexual repression especially with its damaging consequences for females. Another interesting dynamic is how females participate in the domination and repression of their own sex. It is interesting how men in power use females to implement their own male domination in a patriarchal society to maintain their own male power and dominance.


The depiction of females in this story is not positive except for two female characters who rebel both of whom wind up being further repressed and subjugated. In the end, it is a male who saves the handmaid who is the narrator of the story.


What this story teaches about feminism is not positive but depicts a scenario of extreme female subjugation. What this story teaches about females is that they can be easily taken over and controlled by men who manipulate them for their own power aggrandisement.

While very popular in some circles and made into a TV series, the Handmaid’s tale leaves a lot to be desired and its somewhat sensationalized theme has made Margaret Atwood’s book a commercial success but is not great or even good literature. It is mediocre at best and could easily be passed up for something better.

There is not an audience that I would recommend this book to and I see little, if any, benefits to reading itself unless you are entertained by this type of story.




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