*Mild Spoilers ahead*
What would happen if the world’s population became so scarce and women’s fertility dropped to such a low percentage due to infections and diseases? Margaret Atwood answers all these questions and more in her novel, The Handmaids Tale. The novel was published in 1986 and quickly rose to the bestsellers list.
The tale follows Offred, a woman of thirty-three years’ age thrown into a new, totalitarian state which replaces the United States we know today. What drew me to this novel was not only the recommendation from Michael saying that it could be an inspiration for my own novel, but also as I have wanted to read this book for years now but many others came in the way and I just thought, you know what? Yes, I am going to do it.
Atwood’s novel is about women, and how quickly their rights can be taken away from them due to decreasing population and because a new government says so. Offred is one of the Handmaids that high-ranking Commanders use to try to reproduce and increase population. She is not treated like a human, but a breeding mule. However, as the novel digresses, she does get more control over her life again maybe not to the extent she has in the flashbacks she has of before Gilead was formed, but she still gains some. We never find out what happens to Offred, whether she escapes Gilead or not as it cuts to years after Gilead was taken down. A professor talks of her ‘tale’ and how they found it, but not of what happened to her as they could not find that out themselves. Overall, I loved reading this book, it gave me feelings I never thought I would receive whilst reading a book. However, the ending in my opinion was a little bit of a let-down, whilst it leaves it up to interpretation of the reader of what happens to her, I wanted to know what did happen to Offred.
Whilst Atwood’s is sceptical at what time the novel is placed in, though we can see that it is possible that it is set in the 2000’s at least due to its epilogue of the Professors talk,