A snapshot from the Hulu series "The Handmaid's Tale" based on the novel

A reflection
The story is set in a dystopian future, where breeding issues prevail and the people have returned to the church and religion as the sole power, forming the state of Gilead.

Atwood doesn't fully dive into how the state is formed, only sharing fractions of story, how an entity known as The Eye took over the US government and issued military forces to enforce new rules, such as removing women's rights (their right to a bank account, their right to work). Throughout the novel, we get a glimpse of this world through the eyes of our protagonist, Offred. This is the temporary name given to her based on her post - as she throughout the book serves Commander Fred, she is thus of-Fred. If she was serving Glen, she would thus be named Ofglen.

Already, through just through the naming of these handmaids, we see the direct objectification going on, where they 'belong' to a given household. The temporary nature of the name indicates that they will never have their own name, something to take pride in. Rather they will continue to be passed along the different commanders like rag dolls, changing their name as they go along.

Now, what exactly do these Handmaids do? They provide the important service of procreation. Remember, the story is set in a world where nuclear waste impacts birth rates, sterilizing large amounts of the population. The Handmaids are a selected group of individuals that are fertile and support the upper class 'nobility', the commanders and their wives, in bearing a child.

Our main character goes through thoughts of suicide, her slow loss of memories from the past (her husband, her daughter who was taken from her by the Eye), and conformity. In a situation like this, most of us would likely conform, a scary thought indeed.

One of the main themes that I personally resonated with was her perspective of other people being stronger than her. She often compares herself to her friend Moira who is a symbol of rebelliousness, escaping the Handmaids training camp. Later though, we find that Moira herself has "settled" and given up on the fight against the Eye. The comparison between reality and the narrator's idealism is clear.