Positive and Negative Liberty and The Handmaid’s Tale

By Kate Ringer

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a novel dating from the late eighties that I read recently with my book club. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the most fantastic book I’ve ever read, but it certainly made me think. It tells the story of Offred, a middle aged woman who is struggling to find her place in a society in transition. This novel was fairly dystopian, but what made it different than other dystopian novels that I’ve read is that I felt like this is something that I could see happening in my lifetime, practically at any moment. It was realistic, and it said something about American culture that scared me. Continue reading “Positive and Negative Liberty and The Handmaid’s Tale”

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Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”: A not-so-improbable dystopian world

“You Read Like A Girl” Book Review Series

By Madison Teuscher

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian-style tale set in a radically theocratic America. The regime, called Gilead, has classified women into based on fertility and obedience, with different ranks identified by their unique uniform. All women are completely stripped of their rights—everything from reading to purchasing power—and are sorted into classes to divide and control them. Handmaids are fertile women who serve as surrogate wombs for the Commanders and their aging wives. The Wives—women married to the powerful Commanders—are reduced to days of knitting, gardening, and waiting for their Handmaid to give birth to their children. Handmaids are completely powerless, and everywhere they go, there are Eyes—the military division of the Gilead regime—watching and waiting to kill them for any misbehavior.The cover of Margaret Atwood's novel "The Handmaid's Tale"

One reviewer writing for The Verge called it “1984 for feminists… but a lot scarier”. This theocratic society has based its societal revolution on a passage in the book of Genesis about Jacob’s wife, Rachel, allowing her handmaid to conceive Jacob’s child on her behalf. This passage is recited in the book during the monthly ceremony in which the Commander attempts to impregnate the Handmaid under the Wife’s watchful eye. If a Handmaid cannot reproduce, she is sent to a labor internment camp with other Unwomen—old and infertile women who are no longer valuable to the society. Handmaids are only containers for babies, and nothing more. Continue reading “Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”: A not-so-improbable dystopian world”