‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ // Examining Our Own Gilead

Eve Jones is a new intern for Boshemia based in Plymouth, UK. This is her debut article as a staff member. For more of her work, read here

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from The Handmaid’s Tale

32 years after its publication, Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has become a staple novel in international literature and has been translated into over 40 languages. It has also been adapted into plays, opera, film and, most recently, a Hulu TV series.

After a significant decline in the world’s fertility, Gilead is a dystopian United States, in which the government (now exclusively male) have taken control of women’s reproductive rights. Governed by extreme religious zealotry, women are colour coordinated according to fertility, the ‘fruitful’ are red Handmaids and the ‘barren’ blue Wives, green Marthas or striped others. These Handmaids are then divvied out between homes of the elite ‘Commanders’ to be raped once a month in an attempt to further the human race. The Handmaid’s Tale follows one such ‘two-legged womb’, Offred (portrayed by Elisabeth Moss in the new series), as she navigates this grave new world.

Speculative Fiction is a genre engineered to be didactic—to teach us about ourselves. Bruce Miller, producer and writer of the most recent TV show, worked alongside Atwood to update and expand the novel’s relevance through new plot lines and exploring characters in greater detail. How do these additional scenes parallel our political climate and call us to action?

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