Tag: The Handmaid’s Tale

Member Post


I’ve always viewed the movie The Handmaid’s Tale as an unintended comedy. But I’ve been warned that the book by Margaret Atwood is actually quite well written, so this month I gave it a try. I admit: the writing is impressive. Atwood has a fantastic imagination, and the book is full of details that really […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Looking for Tyranny in All the Wrong Places


Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale is a cultural phenomenon. Since the debut of the new Hulu series starring Elisabeth Moss, the novel (originally published in 1985) has earned a new crop of readers, including people who have not yet seen the new web series. I am one of those people.

The world of Atwood’s Tale is a totalitarian Christian fundamentalist nation called Gilead, which was founded after a bloody takedown of the U.S. government. Gilead enforces levitical law more literally and brutally that any Jewish or Christian sect in history. Adultery, fornication and pornography are capital crimes, of course, but Gileadeans may even endanger their lives by owning fashion magazines or wearing makeup. Clothing is Taliban-modest and color-coded to indicate the caste of the person donning it.

Gilead has a strict social structure. Men and women have very distinct roles. Powerful older men get official privileges – such as marriage – that younger men do not. Very few women work outside private homes, but their castes are even more well-defined than those of men. Wives act as the lady-like consorts of powerful men, administering their houses. “Marthas” are household servants who do the real work while the wives engage in handicrafts. Then there are the Handmaids; what they do requires a bit of background.