The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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SummaryThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood audiobook
is a dystopian novel that tells the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. The Republic of Gilead is located in the United States, and it was formed after a staged attack by a fundamentalist Christian Reconstructionist
movement calling itself the "Sons of Jacob", which started a revolution and killed the president and the members of the Congress.
This new government changed the law and suspended women’s rights. Offred is one of the women and she now lives in the house of the Commander, where she can only leave home once a day to get food and where her only function is giving children to the Commander, because the country is going through a fertility crisis and women are only valuable if their ovaries are viable.
However, things were very different in the past, when Offred had a job, a husband, a beautiful daughter and access to knowledge, and we will see that life everytime she remembers it. Unfortunately, all of that is gone now and we will see how she survives in this terrifying place.
ReviewPublished in 1985, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood audiobook
shows how quickly societies can change and how a few people can control millions.
The story is narrated in first person by Offred, a woman who is now a handmaid that belongs to Fred, her Commander. She does not have freedom or rights, even using her birth name is forbidden and she has to use the one that implies her belonging to a Commander (Offred = “of Fred”).
Although most of the events presented in the novel happen during the Republic of Gilead, the story goes back and forth because Offred has many flashbacks of her previous life as a free woman with her family. Through this we can see the contrast of both societies and we can feel the frustration and sadness of her, because she was separated from her family after trying to escape to Canada and she has not seen her daughter since that moment.
The revolution and the events that led to the society of the present day are known through fragments and not through a complete timeline at the beginning of the novel.
While we go deeper into the story, we are fascinated and horrified by the way society works. Offred explains all the details of her everyday life: how people are classified, why they wear clothes of certain colors, how the monthly ritual to get pregnant is, why women are not allowed to read and write and so on.
Another interesting aspect of the book is the relationships that emerge between characters. Most of them are not allowed to happen, but they keep getting more complicated as we continue listening to the audiobook.
We recommend this story to all of those who want to see how societies can completely change the way they work, how most people obey the authorities even if what they order is oppressive, the importance of feminism
and how governments will always be hypocrite and full of sin once they have a great amount of power.
What is apocalyptic about "The Handmaid's Tale's" society?
If we consider apocalyptic as the complete breakdowns of the normal rules and mores of society, then this audiobook is the perfect example. Also, the female writer shows her fear of women losing their rights and establishes that it is a scenario that could actually happen.
What is the most probabilistic outcome of the protagonist in The Handmaid's Tale?
The ending of the novel is really ambiguous, and even if they state that the Republic of Gilead ended, it could have taken many years for that to happen, so there could be both positive and negative outcomes.
Why do we focus on Christianity when discussing The Handmaid’s Tale, when all the closest examples are in the Islamic world?
Besides the focus of the author on Christianity and the setting she chose (revolutionaries literally call themselves “The Sons of Jacob”), the reason why the audiobook is not usually related to the Islamic world are the events that were taking place in the U.S when it was written, like the second wage of feminism and the opposition Christians made to social changes.
What was the environmental disaster that occurred in The Handmaid's Tale? What were the consequences?
Although the formation of the Republic of Gilead was a political event, it was probably started by a series of long-term environmental issues that include pollution, radiation and biological factors.