“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

As humans we persist in the finite ravines of time as it flows like the river behind your house in the 20th Century. It does not make a lot of sense but then anything humane does not as well. This life is but a given asset and we are its miracles and the only vulnerability is death. Neither should the asset be under authoritative rule and neither should the vulnerability be the fear, and what about the miracle you say, it should be but a plethora of realism and metaphysics.

Just like in a garden, a seed is sown and it is watered and one day of no specific date it sprouts up, first as a shoot, then with a stem, leaves and a flower which later bears fruit again with the seeds to be sown in another sacred place. This for me is the brief history of humans. We are born in this world as different people, with different genders, different physical attributes, different personalities, different blessings and different brains. We grow to be children and then adults and then we grow old and each of life’s many stages are affected by the water used to water the seed. Thus we grow to become that which we are affected by, be it positive or negative. However with all of this diversity, the singularity lies in the fact that we are all humans.

Image result for the handmaid's tale by margaret atwood
Picture Credits: penguinrandomhouse.com

Whether you are born with a golden or a silver spoon in your mouth or whether you are born in a less fortunate family, you are still born human. You still deserve all that life has to offer regardless of your gender, color, race, religion, homeland, disabilities or your wealth. Nothing should or could classify you as a lesser human being, and ideally it shouldn’t in the first place. No political policy or type of government is justified in inflicting pain and terror on its people, either national, foreign or transnational. Human rights are but equal for every human being and even though gigantic organizations have this in writing, it is mostly absent in reality and that is the sad part.

There is no reason that you have to bear pain, depression, terror, censorship or inferiority, you are equal and thus you have to make your stance clear. Sadly, a lot of people in the world are not always going to stand up for you thus you are your own best chance.

“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

– Margaret Atwood from The Handmaid’s Tale

The Author, Plot and More Information

The author of The Handmaid’s Tale is Margaret Atwood. She is a Canadian poet, teacher, inventor, essayist, novelist and what not. Frankly speaking, one of my favorite authors indeed.

Here is a list of her notable works (P.S these do not include all of her works, just a few that I know of):

  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • The Testaments
  • Alias Grace
  • The Blind Assassin
  • Hag-Seed
  • The Penelopiad
  • The Year of the Flood
  • The Heart goes Last
  • Power Politics

 

Image result for margaret atwood
                       – Margaret Atwood                                       Picture Credits: www.britannica.com

Now I do not want to give too many spoilers of the story since the plot is quite spontaneous. However just to give you an idea, the story is set in The Republic of Gilead where Offred is a Handmaid in a Commander’s household. The Household consists of the Commander, his wife, his handmaid, his driver and the Marthas. With incessant focus on the handmaids for breeding, under this repressive State where there is a constant difference between anarchy and republican beliefs and policies, a rebellion cannot be stopped.

The main characters of the story includes:

  1. Offred
  2. Nick
  3. Ofglen
  4. The Commander
  5. Serena Joy
  6. Moira
  7. Luke

My Review and Experience Regarding The Book

The Handmaid’s Tale was not just a book, it was an experience. A chance to learn numerous things and to feel human psychology from a different spectrum. One of my favorite things about the book was that it stated variant human emotions and psychologies and created this connection between them even if they were in opposition, it still made sense. For me, when a book mentions human psychology in such a meaningful way, it takes the win for me because it makes you feel as if it is natural to think and feel a specific way.

“Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.”

– Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale

This book is but a play on words, where oceans of human emotion can be surpassed by just a line and often just a word as well. This is a quality that many readers look for in manifold authors and their books and novels and when you find one who constitutes this quality, you can’t help but read their books regardless.

This book and its structure of writing has initiated me to a form of writing that does have any rules or regulations to be followed and there is this certain freedom with the content you write and the way you write it as long as that freedom is utilized in the best possible manner. YOU are the author of the book and it is YOUR story nonetheless and thus it is YOU who get to decide.

Moreover, this book felt like a walk down an alley in my character that had been undiscovered by me. Like imagine you as a personality was this huge city with numerous streets and alleys and on your way you would see them and pass them by but in reading this book I actually took a step down one of those alleyways and discovered an entire dimension that was once silent inside me. Whatever you might want to name this dimension, it is now a part of me, a living breathing part and the gratitude goes to Offred and her story and the one who wrote it.

“Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently.”

– Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale

Additionally, the way in which Margaret Atwood has developed each of the characters and their personas leaves me speechless. More often than not, the reader is usually attracted and attached with the protagonist in this story, but with the thought put into each character in this book and showing the way in which each of them develops and not just the protagonist, shows you diverse angles of the same spectrum. It makes you feel for everyone. You cry with these characters, you feel as if you are a part of them or if they are a part of you, you laugh with them and you contemplate upon them. Thus you do play but an active part in the story.

The most astonishing element for me was how spontaneous the plot was and how many different turns it took and together it all clamored into an exquisite story. There was prepossessing description which steered the entire story and together with the characters constituted an epic plot, something different yet unique. Not just a story, but an alternate dimension with a touch of diversity.

“Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.”

– Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale

My Favorite Lines From the Book

Here are a few lines from the book The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood that have stayed with me:

(P.S. All of these quotes/lines ARE from The Handmaid’s Tale and they are written by Margaret Atwood, I was just too lazy to write it besides every line.)

  • “We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
  • “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
  • “Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”
  • “A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”
  • “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 isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.”
  • “I wish this story were different. I wish it were more civilized. I wish it showed me in a better light, if not happier, than at least more active, less hesitant, less distracted by trivia. I wish it had more shape. I wish t were about love, or about sudden realizations important to one’s life, or even about sunsets, birds, rainstorms, or snow. I’m sorry there is so much pain in this story. I’m sorry it’s in fragments, like a body caught in crossfire or pulled apart by force. But there is nothing I can do to change it.”
  • “Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently.”
  • “Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.”

 

“It was our hands that were supposed to be full, of the future; which could be held but not seen.”

– Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale

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