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Three Ways ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Accurately Predicted The Future

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale has become a dystopian classic. Dystopian novels, by nature, predict a dark portrayal of a future society based on observations of the existing culture which in Atwood’s case, has come true in several ways.

Credit: Unsplash/ Umid Akbarov

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has become a dystopian classic. Dystopian novels, by nature, predict a dark portrayal of a future society based on observations of the existing culture which in Atwood’s work, has come true in several ways.

Typically, dystopias critique capitalism, the government, and authoritarianism, with the overarching message of warning against future chaos.

The Handmaid’s Tale follows the story of a young woman, Offred, which is not her original name. In the futuristic society, women are the property of men and take the name of their superior. In this case, her master is Fred, making her name ‘Of Fred.’

In the fictional Gilead, women are assigned to different roles within the home. This includes handmaids, which is Offred’s role. Handmaids, easily identifiable by their red hoods, are responsible for helping the master and his wife bear children and are assigned to infertile couples. The women are seen and treated as no more than their bodies and ability to bear children.

The dystopian novel has eerily foretold multiple aspects of our modern society.

1. A Cashless Society

During her recounting of the narrative, Offred goes into a flashback to the times before Gilead. The women suddenly find that they have lost access to their online banking. Offred speculates that this made it easier for the government to take control of their assets.

“I guess that’s how they were able to do it, in the way they did, all at once, without anyone knowing beforehand.”

Offred discussing the dangers of a cashless society, Chapter 28.

With the rise of digital cryptocurrencies, a cashless society is certainly on the cards. As Offred explains, the notion of a cashless society rings alarm bells due to the level of surveillance banks, technology companies, and the government can have over individuals.

Credit: Wikimdia/Titi Nicola

2. A Worsening Climate Crisis

Attwood depicts a world severely impacted by global warming. In Gilead, nature is limited, and much has been destroyed by pesticides and nuclear attacks. This is best depicted in the desolate land of ‘The Colonies’ where ‘Unwomen’ are sent – essentially, women who are not deserving of any other place in society and have lost all value in the eyes of the government. Those sent to The Colonies in the novel suffer excruciating heat and often die due to the extreme conditions.

3. Lack of Women’s Rights

The most topical theme in The Handmaid’s Tale that is being linked to the events of today is the lack of women’s rights. The women are assigned roles in the household and only valued for what they can provide, whether children or services such as cooking and cleaning, but certainly not valued as human beings. This is eerily reflected in the recent overturning of Roe v Wade, stripping women in the US of their constitutional rights to an abortion. In fictional Gilead, abortion is banned, and childbirth is placed of the utmost importance in society.

Atwood’s novel foretells a society dictated by an authoritarian government that places little value on women’s lives. The tale is full of hypocrisy and sheds light on the corrupt forces at play, sadly foretelling many issues we have grown to see in today’s world.

Read about how misogynistic men have sparked global terror threats over the past few years.

Written By

Digital Copywriter, Journalist, and Multimedia Content Executive.

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