The Handmaid’s Tale Book Review | Teen Ink

The Handmaid’s Tale Book Review

November 29, 2023
By Andrewhan11 PLATINUM, Jericho, New York
Andrewhan11 PLATINUM, Jericho, New York
26 articles 0 photos 0 comments

     Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is an extremely disturbing novel about a fictional world, the Republic of Gilead, that replaces the United States. This novel’s totalitarian setting employs a theocratic regime that constantly suppresses women. The main character Offred is a Handmaid, who are women that are assigned to bear children for the ruling class. They are fertile women subjected to a theocratic society's strict reproductive control. At the heart of this novel lies the theme of power, resistance, rebellion, oppression, and the role of women is society.
     In The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood vividly describes Offred's tough life using powerful language. The story reveals how women, like the Aunts, enforce oppressive rules on each other. Aunt Lydia, one of the main characters, brainwashes Handmaids into thinking their limited roles are for the greater good, showing how power can be internalized. This showcases how language is an ultimate weapon that has infinite power in modern society. Just by speaking words people can make others do what they want them to do. Isn’t that scary?
     Moreover, in The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood carefully looks at how Gilead's strict gender roles affect women. The roles, like Wives, Handmaids, and Marthas, show a clear view of traditional gender expectations. Women are valued mainly for their ability to have children, and this system reinforces patriarchal structures. It reduces women to their reproductive roles, taking away their freedom and control over their own lives. Atwood isn't just criticizing society; she's also showing how limiting people to specific roles can lead to a loss of humanity. It makes us think about the importance of reconsidering these societal expectations.
    In the society of Gilead, not only women, but everyone has less rights than what we are used to as readers. Offred feels the impact of strict rules and constant surveillance. She can't have personal relationships, and if she or anyone disagrees with the rules, they face serious consequences. The author explores how the regime not only controls what people do but also what they think and want, which is terrifying. Through Offred's story, readers see how living in Gilead means losing control over your own life. It made me think about why my personal freedom is important and what happens when it's taken away. It makes us value what we have more and not take things for granted.
     Although I am personally not a huge fan of fiction books, this masterpiece by Atwood will still be a gem for people like me because it explores real-world problems and issues in society even through an imaginary reality. Additionally, this could theoretically become reality at some point in the future. Just hopefully not in my lifetime. The way Atwood is able to slightly exaggerate and describe different scenes and moments, as well as society issues, adds a unique taste to the book, which makes us really think deeper about our reality. One day after reading a few pages of this novel, I decided to take a trip to Brooklyn. And to my absolute surprise, I even looked at the world differently. I was truly grateful for what I had.
     This novel, although disturbing, is still well-worth reading, but while reading, I would definitely recommend pausing in between chapters and pages to calm down and reflect upon what was just read because it surely needs time to settle. In summary, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale explores how society controls people, especially women, and how they still fight to stay strong. The book makes us think about power, personal freedom, and how the fight for independence continues, making it still important for today's world. Definitely a must read.


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