The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of readers were missing 'the point' that M. Atwood was trying to make. And in some sense I can't blame them because the message - if there is one - she tries to convey is quite vague and brought forward in a chaotic manner. 

By opting for a society where women are exclusively defined by their ability to bear children under the authority of Christian fanatics, M. Atwood ultimately narrowed her definition of gender inequality. After all, the issue is more complex and is rooted much deeper than merely the physical or biological differences between women and men. The deep rooted perceptions has been largely neglected.

The book fell short mainly because of the main character Offred. M. Atwood is right by saying that future generations will be more compliant with a new regime. Because they have nothing to compare with. But Offred can. She knows how it was before and lived through the transitional phase. And even though she occasionally talks about her husband and child, she doesn't ask herself further questions. She even actively participates with the new established authority. At the other hand I could understand it as it being a way to cope or survive but this wasn't made clear.

And what's with religion that influences the daily life of the characters. Why that particular choice for an authoritarian Christian theocracy? Why should a specific religion take over authority more than any other belief (I use the word here in a broad sense) and impose a strict regulation on women in particular.

If it was M. Atwood intention to convey a message then this was poorly executed. Even now I'm left confused. I guess it's open for everyone's interpretation.

But in the end, as a literary fiction, I still enjoyed it. And I got impressed by the symbolic and subtle way of showing the unequal treatment through clothing, body language etc. and the escape to the club as an 'outlet' is quite telling and still relevant today.