One of the biggest and most controversial books in the world is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The novel tackles difficult topics head on and has stayed in the media mainstream for decades. Keep reading to find out why this novel is a must read!
Currently, The Handmaid’s Tale has a show airing of the same name that has been critically-acclaimed. Atwood has written a novel that has broken boundaries and has led to the novel being one of the most censored books in the world. Once you read a description of the plot, you will get an idea why.
The Handmaid’s Tale Summary
The President of the United States is killed in a staged attack as well as most of Congress. The ones behind the attack are a radical political group that call themselves the “Sons of Jacob” and start a revolution. This group believes that judicial laws of the Old Testament should be used to govern modern society.
The group suspends the United States Constitution and newspapers are censored. They rename the United States of America to the Republic of Gilead and change it to a military dictatorship.
The new regime changes the laws using the Old Testament as a guide and restructure the social classes. In this new structure, women have become the lowest-ranking class and cannot own money, property, or read and write. And they lose the right over their own reproductive functions.
The story is told in first person by Offred, a fertile woman that is assigned the title Handmaid. Her job is to produce children for the Commanders, the ruling class of men in Gilead. She undergoes trainer with other women to become a handmaid.
Offred shares her story of how she was treated and what her job as a handmaid led to and how she ended up joining the resistance to fight back against the ruling class.
The novel tackles heavy subjects and does it flawlessly. It reminds me of 1984 and as reproductive rights are restricted in this day and age, it is as relevant as ever. As a society, we are always a few steps from being in a state of chaos and this novel captures a possibility if we ever forget what’s at stake.
I remember reading this for class and being surprised at the content of the novel. I was hooked and was amazed at Atwood’s ability to tell a story so chillingly. Schools should allow books like this to be required reading because no adult is going to think kids are “old enough to grasp the topics at hand.” It is the school’s job to educate the youth and there is no better way than this classic novel.
Seeing novels like The Handmaid’s Tale stay relevant because of tv shows gives me great joy. Some books should always be part of modern society and this is one of them.