February 17, 2005

The Handmaid's Tale

I just finished reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I saw the movie a couple years ago with Alan which is what prompted me to want to read the book. The book is a satire of right-wing politics and women's suffrage.

The thing about The Handmaid's Tale is that it was written in 1939 when the role of woman in American culture was changing, and right before many of those changes were solidified by World War II.

I believe there are two criticisms present in this book. The first is the belittling attitude by men towards women. This attitude does in fact still persist today, although it has been greatly reduced. A person cannot covet that which she cannot know, and promoting the bliss of ignorance on the masses is a very powerful form of control.

The second criticism is that of a government that controls the masses through indoctrination, media, and a system of punishment, rewards, and release. There was a line in the book that read similar to how the smallest rewards become much more valuable when everything else is withheld. And furthering the indoctrination by twisting history and controlling the media ensures ignorance and uniform thought. Providing the occasional release of the pressure created by this environment helps keep rebellions down.

Unfortunately, this second criticism is exactly what is happening in the United States today. And it is working.

Posted by josuah at February 17, 2005 1:58 AM UTC+00:00

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Author Profile Pagebutterflybird says at March 4, 2005 11:34 PM

I was searching google for the handmaid's tale when I found this.
My understanding is that the book was written in the 1980's as a response to growing islamic fundamentalism, not world war 2.

Author Profile PageJosuah says at March 5, 2005 12:27 AM

Hm. I must have misread the copyright information in the front. According to the Random House biography, Margaret Atwood was born in 1939. And The Handmaid's Tale was published in 1983. Oops.

Post a comment

July 2013
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31