Mickie's Reviews > The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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's review
Apr 03, 2012

it was amazing

Freaky and haunting...I can't believe this book was written in the 80s...it just seems so topical. I was haunted as much by the absurdity of the premise as much as by how believable I found it.

Things I found interesting:
* The treatment of the document as a "historical document" diary. How often do we read slave narratives or accounts of little girls hiding from the NAZI and think of them as surreal? Never. We either relate to the narrator or we feel nothing at all in connection with someone so far removed and safely ensconced in the past. By giving us the distance of a historical perspective--we actually may connect with the Handmaiden a bit more. I found this brilliant. She is absurd and absolutely believable.
*Everything is political. All politics are personal. That was true in 1AD and it is true now and it will be true forever. Even the contents of your body or the events in your bedroom. Although this account of biblical surrogacy is fiction, it has and is still used in some sects as the author confirms in the afterward.
*At first I thought that this was a story about control...men over women, powerful over weak--and it is, but it is also a parable about permissions of power. No one can take your dignity without your permission--did E Roosevelt say that? No one can force you to betray your soul.

*Favorite quotes:
"There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it."

"We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn't the same as ignorance, you have to work at it."

"Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some."

"Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary."

"We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. It gave us more freedom."

"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 can 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."

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