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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale (1985)

by Margaret Atwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
25,15463444 (4.11)1583
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    sparemethecensor: The Handmaid's Tale is the classic forerunner to dystopic fiction of sexist futures. When She Woke picks up the mantel with a more modern version of a misogynistic theocracy taking over government. Both show terrifying futures for the state of women in society.… (more)
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In a dystopian future, women fulfill certain, predefined roles within society, namely to bear children. Healthy, live, full term births are very rare and those women who are fertile are just as rare themselves. Women are forbidden to read and write, and live strictly to serve (in some capacity) at the mercy of their men. Men in high ranking positions whose wives are infertile are gifted with a Handmaid, a woman whose sole job is to bear a child for this distinguished couple, then to be moved on to another family to hopefully do it once more. Offred has been transferred to be the new handmaiden of a Captain, replacing one who was unable to bear him a child. She reflects on her life before, when she was happily married, employed at a job she loved, and raising a young daughter, while simultaneously contemplating this new world and her role within it.

This novel was so chilling. Just to imagine our society slowly crumbling and morphing into something so unrecognizable from our current lives was enough to give me serious pause. The careful and systematic stripping of rights until it was to late for anyone to do anything was something I found eerie and honestly (terrifyingly) very believable. Written in a somewhat disjointed style, paragraphs often skip from various stages in Offreds life (childhood, college, marriage) back to present day under this new rule, I was easily engrossed. The story was very finely crafted and written, and really painted a bleak picture of society as a whole. I will definitely be tuning in to the Hulu original to see this enthralling novel brought to life on the small screen. (Release date April 26, 2017) ( )
  courtneygiraldo | Apr 24, 2017 |
$60-90 as high as $ 188/ few listed ABE ( )
  wbirke | Apr 22, 2017 |
I first read this book soon after it was published and just re-read it a quarter century later. This is a seminal work about gender roles that is often mistaken as a rant against religion. Atwood needed a dystopia in which to set her tale of Offred. She chose a religious dystopia, perhaps because there was a raging paranoia about the "Religious Right" in the 1980's that gave it a natural audience. But despite most comments you see posted about this novel, it is about gender roles, not a religion rant. It could as easily have been set in a dystopia like Orwell's 1984. Atwood chooses a single pov focused on Offred (excluding the last section)so we can view this society through a woman's eyes; however, Offred's development in the narrative shows her realizing that she was just as trapped in a role in the former "free" society as she is in the totalitarian regime.
This comes to the second misconception about this novel, that it is a feminist rant against men. Also not true. And by the way, if you don't believe me then listen to Atwood: (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jan/20/handmaids-tale-margaret-atwood) The narrative lays out that the men in this society are just as tied to their inescapable roles as the women, and that the society could not exist without the large scale collaboration of women. So if you harbor ill will against religion or men, then I feel you will be very disappointed in this novel. What this novel does best is what science fiction does best, speculate a possible future that highlights an issue. If you want a serious study of gender roles in society, any society, then you'll find it in The Handmaid's Tale.

The only thing that makes this novel a little difficult is the narrative mode. Atwood mostly abandons quotation marks, but that is fairly easy to get used to when reading. The more serious issue is that the narrative has a distant telling mode, more like a diary, compared to a more immersive showing mode. I believe this choice is very deliberate. The Handmaid's world is very cloistered and lived largely in her interior world. If this were told in a deeply immersed mode, it would become claustrophobic and hard to read. So I believe Atwood made the right choice here. ( )
  AugustvonOrth | Apr 20, 2017 |
Set in the near future, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a dystopian story of a time when government, as we know it, has been overthrown by a totalitarian regime that is both depressing and scary to read about. There appear to be pockets of resistance and on-going fighting but there are also unlivable areas that have been devastated by bombs and are high in radiation. Offred really only has one option since her choice is to comply or be hung on the wall or sent out to die of radiation sickness. Compliance for her is to become a handmaid, a vessel to be fertilized and used to bring forth new life.

This is a very powerful story and it’s a sad fact that even thirty years after it’s original publication, the synopsis still holds many truths that are relevant today. In this story the religious right has gained control and taken free choice away from people. The radiation is causing fertility issues and the only way many couples can have children is through the use of a handmaid. But these handmaids are not treated as valued humans, rather they are held as prisoners, degraded and forced into participation in some very distasteful ceremonies.

Offred’s narration is chillingly calm but the author’s perceptive writing is peppered with wit and descriptive imagery that raises this science fiction story to a literary level of brilliance. The Hand Maid’s Tale was a very emotional read for me, but the most disturbing aspect of all is the fact that with the political situation in today’s world, it didn’t seem to be so very far fetched. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Apr 19, 2017 |
Heartbreaking. So, so horrifying and probably more plausible than most would like to think. ( )
1 vote Jon_Hansen | Apr 19, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 612 (next | show all)
I feel pretty good with an attractive cover will keep the reader interested to buy it, nice work, I appreciate her hard work.
Thank You !!!
how bleak and even terrifying we will not fully realize until the story's final pages. But the sensibility through which we view this world is infinitely rich and abundant. And that's why Miss Atwood has succeeded with her anti-Utopian novel where most practitioners of this Orwellian genre have tended to fail.
added by johnsmithsen | edittips dan trik, danifin (Dec 30, 2016)
Ithink, As a cautionary tale, Atwood's novel lacks the direct, chilling plausibility of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. It warns against too much: heedless sex, excessive morality, chemical and nuclear pollution. All of these may be worthwhile targets, but such a future seems more complicated than dramatic. But Offred's narrative is fascinating in a way that transcends tense and time: the record of an observant soul struggling against a harsh, mysterious world. :D
added by johnsmithsen | editinformasi, lowongan kerja (Dec 21, 2016)
A dystopian society, gilead, takes over after they stage a coup and destroy the American government structure. Women are relegated to being breeding material, if they're fortunate. Suicide is a common way out. They lose their identities and names, become "Offred" or "Ofwarren" and submit to Aunts, Wives, Guardians, all the while the Eye watches everyone. Offred is the main character, and she takes the reader with her through her days, and nights, and also her memories of her husband and daughter. She is a Handmaid, meant to bear children to offset the negative population curve. Hrd to believe this was written in 1985, in light of the current political upheaval now with DT as President and the conservative majority of the legislature
Just re-read this after first read in the 1980's. In these turbulent times of 2017, it seemed like a good book to revisit with my book group. Turns out many of us in the Washington Metro Area are reading it, along with 1984 and It Can’t Happen Here which are on the Washington Post’s paperback best seller list this week. The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a highly controlled theocracy sometime in the future where women are denigrated and assigned specific roles based on their husband’s wealth and power or lack thereof. The Handmaid’s role is to have babies for the powerful and the narrator tells us here tale. The final part of the book describes in a future anthropological conference how this type of societal structure came about which is one of the creepiest parts to read after finishing the scary novel. Read it for the dystopian vision and for Margaret Atwood’s writing which is masterful.
added by johnsmithsen | editlowongan kerja

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, Margaretprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, AnnaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, ElenaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Battey, FrancesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danes, ClaireNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, ValerieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennati, CamilloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibthorp, FletcherCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.

And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?

And she said, Behold my maid Bihah, go in unto her, and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.
                              — Genesis 30:1-3
But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal. . .
                              — Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal
In the desert there is no sign that says, Thou shalt not eat stones.
                              — Sufi proverb
For Mary Webster and Perry Miller
First words
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.
As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and, try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our own day.
Time has not stood still. It has washed over me, washed me away, as if I’m nothing more than a woman of sand, left by a careless child too near the water.
The shell of the egg is smooth but also grained; small pebbles of calcium are defined by the sunlight, like craters on the moon. It's a barren landscape, yet perfect; it's the sort of desert the saints went into, so their minds would not be distracted by profusions. I think that this is what God must look like: an egg. The life of the moon may not be on the surface, but inside.
But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest. Maybe none of this is about control... Maybe it's about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.
There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia, freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Reading Guide Edition is the substantial equivalent the main Handmaid's Tale work, with a few additional pages of questions for groups to consider at the back. Please therefore leave these works combined together. Thank you
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
From the back of the book: 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 market 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, Offredd and the other handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offredd 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…..
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038549081X, Paperback)

In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?

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 only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days 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....

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:22 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

A look at the near future presents the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, once the United States, an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction.

» see all 13 descriptions

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