The Handmaid’s Tale

by: Margaret Atwood

Genre

The Handmaid’s Tale is primarily an example of speculative fiction because it imagines an alternate world not far removed from our own. In the novel, Atwood satirizes the various trends she observed in the 1980s: poor treatment of women, disease and infertility, and the corruption of religion. By imagining a near future not far removed from our own world, The Handmaid’s Tale explores the possible consequences of existing trends. For instance, the novel depicts what would happen if contemporary society’s increasingly permissive attitude to sex and sexuality provoked a severe backlash, favoring political factions who believe in the repression and control of women’s sexuality. The Handmaid’s Tale suggests that the rise of the religious right, together with a declining birth-rate, could produce a totalitarian regime in the United States.