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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale is a 1985 science fiction novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. It describes the horrors of a United States in which a religious movement has gained ultimate power.

The book is written from the perspective of Offred (the name given to her by the new order, since she "belongs" to, or is "of" her master, Fred), whose only task it is to have sex once a month with her master, to provide him with children. In the dystopia of the story, a wealthy man has several women in the house for several functions: a wife and servants[?].

The book is the basis of Volker Schlöndorff[?]'s 1990 movie of the same name, starring Faye Dunaway and Aidan Quinn[?], and also Poul Ruders[?]' opera, also of the same name, which was premiered in 2003.

Plot A revolution has taken place in the United States. The Congress has been removed and a new order has been established, one that rules with the Bible in hand. Most citizens have been stripped of their freedoms. Women are most affected: no longer are they allowed to read, wear make-up, or to choose their clothes.

There are five types of women in this new society: wives, econowives, Aunts, Marthas and Handmaids. The task of the latter is to bear children. Offred is a handmaid. She has been assigned to a family; recent nuclear experiments have gone wrong and caused considerable infertility. In order to keep their masters in power, offspring have to be produced.

Slowly, it begins to dawn on Offred that the Bible is only used as a crutch; she seems to remember that the verses quoted at her were not actually in the book, but how can she verify this if she is not allowed to read?



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