Handmaid's Tale

"The reason why The Handmaid's Tale is such a powerful novel is that its characters and events have their root in our everyday society." Discuss.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, can be said to be a powerful novel due to the relevance relativity its characters and events have in our everyday society. Known to be one of the first feminist dystopic novels, the world of Gilead in which the novel is set in perfectly matches the criteria of a dystopic society. We see Gilead as a world that uses punishment as a tool of fear and control and also uses brainwashing as a way of manipulating its population into believing that this society, one full of revulsion and horror, is a near perfect world, backed up by biblical precedent. Atwood creates a futuristic novel, due to its speculative nature, a novel which subliminally forewarns the audience, particularly women that we should not take our freedoms too complacently or perhaps we could end up with a case of extremism or in the case of the Handmaid’s Tale, Christian fundamentalism. To place convey her message, she uses elements of her novel such as uniforms, female rivalry and executions to demonstrate the powerful link they have to our very own society.

In today’s society, uniforms can be used as a tool of identification, a tool which is also evident in the totalitarian world Atwood has created within her novel. However in our world; uniforms are merely benign elements not threats and can be used to differentiate different schools, sporting teams, professions and cultures. In the world of The Handmaid’s Tale, we see that uniforms are a way of stripping away someone’s identity and restricting freedoms, particularly those of the Handmaids. The long red dresses that the Handmaid’s are forced to wear represent “the colour of blood, which defines us” which shows that their only purpose in this society is to bear children. Atwood uses vivid imagery to, through the use of the protagonist, describe a fellow handmaid as “a...