So, Margaret Atwood’s book: The Handmaid’s Tale is an amazing read.
I got the book and started reading when I opted for watching the series alongside to get a different take and hopefully to have the two medias blend together.
And this is exactly what happened. The series give an extra dimension visually and adds backstory through the characters memories which just enhances the written story, for me anyway.
And the book is a mesmerizing read. One word takes the next effortlessly as the diary of the handmaid Offred unfolds even deeper nuances into a world of dystopian disasters where religious control is the mainstay of the day.
A christian group “Sons of Jacob” stages an attack on congress (this is with the US as background) killing the president and continuing from here first to suspend the United States Constitution, of course with the pretext to restore order.
And then to take away human rights. In particular womens rights who are now the property of men, are forbidden to read and write and have jobs and income. And the human rights are also taken away from anyone else who does not fit into the Old Testament way of thinking, such as doctors who performed abortions, people who oppose this new totalitarian theocracy and people of different sexual orientation.
The world has experienced a devastating drop in fertility and the few women who are able to bear children become handmaids in households with the sole purpose of using their bodies to produce the next generation.
They are mere slaves in a system where noone can be trusted, everyone is a potential spy and they are kept in their place through physical and mental abuse. Those who do not conform undergo bodily mutilation if the are fertile and exile to the colonies or death if they are not. There is no way out of Gilead, as this part of the old US is now known.
This is just a first impression of course as I haven’t yet finished reading the book.
The thing that strikes me though is that however horrifying a future picture this might be, this is not just a fictional dystopian scenario. Nor is it just a depiction of a society aeons ago. This is something that has happened and is actually happening in the world today.
And this is what makes Margaret Atwoods book, written in 1985, so eerily to the point. The idea depicted in the book of the religious and political supression of women and people who oppose the system is sadly a reality for thousands, indeed millions of women (and men) in our world today.
And the mere fact that this is still tolerated silently is just evidence that we as a worldly society still have so far to go.
We are not out of the medieval era yet, not by a long shot.