The Handmaid's Tale Analysis

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Introduction Canadian author Margaret Atwood describes in her futuristic speculative novel The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), a story about a handmaid, with a patronymic name Offred, who witnesses, experiences and recounts a transformation of her country. The country has turned from the land of freedom to the totalitarian theocracy, where tyrannical dictatorship, oppression, Christianity and Biblical speeches held sway over people, in particular, over women. Aiming to return things to “Nature’s norm” (THT 232) and “traditional value” (17), a group of men called “Sons of Jacob” has established The Republic of Gilead, “after the catastrophe, when they shot the President and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency” (183). Like the New England Puritans of the seventeenth century, Gilead is against women’s education, “second marriage, non-marital liaisons adulterous” (316), divorce, second marriage, homosexuality, pornography, abortion, and sterilization. The last one is the serious problem, which threatens the continuation of the future Gilead: [T]his was the age of the R-strain syphilis and also the infamous AIDS epidemic, which [...] eliminated many young sexually active people from the reproductive pool[.] Stillbirths, miscarriages, and genetic deformities were widespread and on the increase, and this trend has been linked to be various nuclear-plant accidents, shutdowns, and incidents of sabotage that characterized the period, as well as to leakages

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