The Handmaid’s Tale is one of those books that I didn’t know much about aside from the fact that I ought to read it. After viewing the first season of the new HBO series based on the novel, I took action. Captain obvious here, but the book is better! I was so thrilled to discover the unique ending to the book because of how it reminded me of the style of Studs Terkel and World War Z. And while the show is fascinating, it’s far more graphic and violent than the book, adding twists and turns to its episodic plot lines. Margaret Atwood’s writing captures an overwhelming sense of dread and futility without directly depicting anywhere near as much graphic torture. Without the need to write in a climax in each chapter, the feelings of horror and disgust gradually unfolds as you learn more about this dystopian future.
But the metaphors are what really stood out in Atwood’s writing, stopping me in my tracks to re-read them. Sometimes they are simple and subtle, and if you aren’t reading slowly or closely you might breeze by. Take this one for example in which the narrator feels she is fading from reality:
But then there are two metaphors that I couldn’t get out of my head, and probably never will. These powerful passages show me that I’m barely scraping the surface of this book. The Handmaid’s Tale is a haunting vision of what happens when you only see women as their uterus. I’ll stop writing with this and let Atwood’s words speak for themselves: