By Miranda Boyer
When I first heard of Margaret Atwood’s HANDMAID’S TALE I thought it was some odd period piece. But of course, for those of you who have read or watched it, you know I was wrong. On a whim, I decided to watch the Hulu original and was sucked in right away. I binged it in two days flat. In fact, I couldn’t let it go. The crazy person asking everyone she knows if they’ve watched it yet because I needed to compare notes. In fact, I made my mom watch is so I had someone to talk to about it.
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…
It wasn’t too long before I caved to reading the book. Only actually, Clair Danes does the audio, so I listened. There are so many thoughts running through my head, sometimes when I struggle to form coherent thoughts, I like to google what other people say. This often results in the super short reviews. Because I’m like, everyone else already said it all. And yes, I started to google about this book. I shouldn’t be too surprised to come up with a slew of political posts.
This is where my brain goes immediately. Rights are taken away from, let’s say all but the top 1% of citizens. Women don’t have the right to own property, money, to read, to speak out of turn. They are property. So much so, they aren’t allowed to leave what was once the United States. Property can be used once it’s been beaten into submission. I know why people are talking about the political aspects of this book. It’s because they don’t seem far-fetched, or out of place. It all feels like we’re slipping into this world and tomorrow we could wake up and find ourselves in the Republic of Gilead. Where love is illegal and you are always watched.
I’m impressed with how the book follows the show err visa versa. I’m a little sad that if the show continues (which I was hoping for) it would be doing so outside of the book. I would still probably watch it though. I enjoyed the letters after the novel was finished. They’re written as though the whole novel was a recorded document someone finds. A piece of history. Oh, those silly Giliad people. Aren’t we glad that bit of history is done? It’s both disturbing and also brings hope that our main Character survives. That she is able to escape because of Nick and the two of them are living some life outside of the states. They made it to Canada or Mexico. Maybe through the Quaker underground railroad, or through the network of MayDay fighters. We’ll never know. But I like to think she got away.
Final thoughts… Margret Atwood had no idea that 30 + years after she wrote this book, it would feel so present. Or maybe she did. I hope others read it and are just as scared as I was.