The Handmaid’s Tale

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Under His Eye: fundamentalism and fertility

Why do Offred’s (and the other handmaids’) experiences both terrify and resonate strongly with a 2017 audience? Did Atwood predict the future back in 1984 when she wrote the novel?

  • It is crazy how things are playing out in the world maybe he did see the furure – rayd 3 years ago
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  • Maybe after 30 years of the Bushes and the Clintons making America their own private Verona, maybe Chaucer was always going to be,as Gore Vidal said of Capote meanly, Your Dante. – Antonius865 3 years ago
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  • I think this also has a lot to do with the way that humanity exists in cycles, and the authors that write dystopian just have a way of identifying those cycles in a way that others can't. – talorelien 3 years ago
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  • I agree with Talorelien's point that literature tends to be cyclical in nature. Atwood was responding to her own period, if you look at some of the original interviews and critics this is discussed clearly. However, what perhaps is interesting is that the appeal of 'The Handsmaid's Tale' has not actually ever waned. As pointed out, here story is still a valid allegory of American politics as it was in the 1980s. What might be interesting to explore further is the idea of the ongoing appeal of dystopian texts in today's social conscience. – SaraiMW 3 years ago
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  • Atwood herself has somewhat already answered these questions. She pushes back by saying its irrelevant if she "predicted" the future. She instead addresses the point that she intentionally wrote everything from historical events or literature; in other words, everything in the book is already true in some capacity. – birdcat 1 year ago
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  • History repeats itself- or at least that is what people tend to say. Atwood looked back on history to aid in the creation of her book. Her tales are ones that occurred in the past, so it would make sense that some version of them would come back in the present and future. How we got here matters, and it will dictate where we go. – simmerdownboyle 1 year ago
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  • Perhaps it is so frightening because women historically have been oppressed so this story demonstrates an extreme that we hope to avoid. The modern day setting also creates the feeling that you can never be sure what to expect. – kattmccann 1 year ago
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Does The Handmaid's Tale verge on torture porn

With the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale expanding on where the book finished, the ante is continually upped in terms of violence and horror. To keep the tension building, the torture and suffering the women in The Handmaid’s Tale keeps getting worse and worse. Is this feminist tv show crossing the line with how much suffering is shown?

  • Anyone taking on this topic needs to acknowledge that men also suffer, are tortured and exploited in The Handmaid's Tale: Commander Warren Putnam's hand is amputated as punishment for his lustful feelings and behaviour towards Janine, Nick is exploited as a sperm donor and forced into an arranged marriage. Also, I suggest that the topic be re-worded slightly: Rather than presume that the suffering is worsening solely for the purpose of building tension, why not ask 'what is the purpose of the escalation of horror and suffering? Is it inappropriate, and does it compare with torture porn?' Anyone responding to this topic as it is worded would have to be familiar with 'torture porn', which complicates matters for the potential writer. – Jos 2 years ago
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  • While it is definitely devastating to watch, I wouldn't necessarily label it as "torture porn", because that would imply that we derive pleasure from watching the characters suffer. We see plenty of horrible things in shows like Game of Thrones, and we keep watching not because of the events depicted, but because of how the characters respond. – RebaZatz 2 years ago
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The Handmaid's Tale: The Intersection of Fiction and Reality

Are we entering an era of lost rights for women? Are our futures as bleak as Margaret Atwood predicted in 1986? Analyze Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in its portrayal of women and its implications in modern day politics. Discuss the importance of the book as speculative fiction and the aspects of Gilead possible in modern society.

  • This is a very relevant topic and I look forward to it being explored. We may not have reached Gilead just yet, but some people would certainly will us that direction. Is there a difference today because we have people fighting it? What about the people at the time of the novel's writing that were fighting this same thing? (Has the fight changed at all?) – Mariel Tishma 3 years ago
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