English 12 U
November 29th 2012
Literary Importance of The Handmaid’s Tale
As C.S. Lewis once said “we read to know we are not alone” Though I still ask myself why is reading so important? Maybe it is the experiences of the characters that we can relate to, the history the text reflects or perhaps it is the escape from reality that we crave. Many novels hold all of these aspects, while some only reflect one. This makes it our duty as a reader to interpret the significance of a novel. The Handmaid’s Tale is a vital piece of literature because it shows the history of humanity, exemplifies societal extremes and helps us to discover ourselves through the world.
The Handmaid‘s Tale helps to show the harsh history of humankind. For generations people have been classified based on their gender and societal status and have been punished accordingly. In Afghanistan for example, women are forced to have sex with their husbands and are beaten if not compliant. The same is evident in the novel as the Handmaids are forced to have sex with the Commanders. The Handmaids are in a powerless position just as the women of Afghanistan are. Personally, I can’t imagine having to give up my body without my permission, it would be horrible to be treated like that, yet it’s happened throughout history and is continuing to happen today. This shows that The Handmaid’s Tale is really a “speculative fiction” as Margaret Atwood would say, because all of the events have already happened at some point in humanity.
Even the executions known as “salvaging” in The Handmaid’s Tale, reflects the brutal history of our world. In the novel, all of the Handmaids literally tear apart a man that’s convicted of rape. The same idea is applied in Afghanistan where women who are convicted of adultery are placed in a hole and are stoned till death in an execution known as “stoning“. It is sickening to think that humanity can be so cruel to one another. When I hear about it on...