We do not deny the fact that “The Handmaid’s Tale” is an interesting and rather unique series, the ideological component of which has every opportunity to become a cult. But most likely it did. The three existing seasons can be characterized as the widespread prevalence of form over content with a huge number of inconsistencies. So, below we will tell you what is still wrong with “The Handmaid’s Tale” and why this is a completely unreliable example of dystopia.
Briefly about the plot of “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Future. The quasi-religious totalitarian Republic of Gilead is located on the territory of the former United States. Everything except churches (theaters) and shops is outlawed. Any gentiles, representatives of sexual minorities, atheists and others objectionable to the state are sentenced to death. All women, except for the wives of the commanders and “aunts”, are declared the lowest caste, they are forbidden to move alone or without a man, it is forbidden to leave the borders of Gilead, read and express their thoughts. Their every move is coordinated by the military, who patrol the streets tirelessly.
Against the background of this outright atrocity, we meet the servant Fredova (on behalf of the head of the family, Commander Fred Waterford), a fertile woman who lives in the Waterford house and must give birth to a child from the owner.
Episode of the series: what we know about the Republic of Gilead
Now we will not refer to the novel by Margaret Atwood, since The Handmaid’s Tale by Hulu is an independent work, which, although based on the original book source, is primarily intended to transfer the paper version to the screen, supplement, and, if possible, improve the original story …
Returning to the main question of the paragraph, after looking at all three seasons, the following facts come to mind, namely:
- Due to the poor level of ecology in the world, the birth rate has dropped. How many percent, in what way and from what specifically, are open questions. Of course, the demonstration of the picture where 10 children were born in 2015, and in 2019 one “explains” everything;
- The United States was seized by a certain terrorist organization, which in a matter of years changed the lives of all Americans beyond recognition. Now all the small society, because everyone else apparently fled to Canada, can be divided into commanders and their wives, servants (marfa) in the amount of 2-4 people per family, including one servant, military nouns (later “Angels” and “Keepers”). The so-called “aunts” and doctors. They all wear distinctive outfits. For example, maids are red, and the wives of commanders are blue;
- In the Republic of Gilead, there are completely primitive traditions, not supported by anything, except for a few quotes from the Bible and the desire to show cruelty and violence, of which the series is full. Stoning to death, cutting off hands, fingers, tongues and gouging out eyes is not supported by anything other than “the tests that the Lord sends you.”
And all this could pass at face value, for heroes, or even spectators, had these heroes been born already during this regime, having absorbed such cruelty from childhood, not knowing that outside of Gilead there are people who still buy Lattes with double foam and go to the movies. And it’s not even about the intimidated maids, but about the soldiers who were either raised on a closed farm somewhere at the end of the world, or these are serious miscalculations in the script, because to force innocent women to hurt, kill and maim them just because it is necessary – impossible.
If we turn our attention to the fact that all the military are people who have lived all their lives in the territory of the most ordinary United States and have been engaged in the daily murder of “all unwanted” people for only a couple of years, then too many questions arise, the first of which is why they do it? It is likely that among maidservants or marthas, if someone’s wife, daughter, mother or sister, and nothing but brainwashing from birth, should not cause these men to kill or even hurt them. Also, from the plot, we learn that only commanders are allowed to have women, which should further fuel interest in the uprising.
What happened to everyone else in the United States?
If we take into account the fact that 90% of the US population really fled to Canada or beyond, then the question of what all other women (who are not supposed to do anything) and men are doing disappears by itself. Most of the people are sent to colonies, killed for the sake of hanging for the edification of others, assigned to castes or locked up in brothels. In support of this theory, there are clean and empty streets of Gilead, on which maids, marfa and military men walk.
How and on what to keep the totalitarian regime of “The Handmaid’s Tale”?
A closed totalitarian state with a religious slave-owning ideology can be found in every second self-respecting dystopia. Let us recall at least not such a “distant” “1984” by J. Orwell, the prototype of which was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or a better example, the so-called Villa Bavier, Bavarian Villa or simply Colony Dignidad, a German settlement in Chile that existed during the Pinochet dictatorship … On the territory of the Colony, all those who disagree with the regime were tortured and killed with enviable regularity. But the problem is that in both fictional and real situations, the shown totalitarian regimes have a complex, immensely strict, but understandable social structure based on some kind of ideology (legend), with the help of which people are “zombified” forcing them to believe in the slogans of the authorities with with all possible sincerity.
Explaining Meaning: Ideology in The Handmaid’s Tale
The general ideology in “The Handmaid’s Tale” which should hold the links of the forming society is incomprehensible from the word “absolutely”. Almost all members of the regime, from the commanders and their wives, to aunts, marfs, some soldiers, and even more so the maids, are not happy with the situation. The question of how this regime still holds, for whom it exists, who is sponsored and coordinated, remains open. One might think that the Waterford family is the ideological founder, which is partly true, but is there any point in explaining the fact that the religious prejudices of one not quite adequate unit of society are not capable of undermining (destroying) an entire country.
Cruelty for the sake of cruelty?
The predominance of form over content is manifested not only in the meaninglessness of what is happening from the point of view of “genus prolongation”. Think for yourself, if the ultimate goal of the terrorists was to revive the United States, then why not use the artificial insemination procedure and wait for the birth of one child for several years. In terms of cruelty, it is also a spectacle for the sake of entertainment, because fertile women are regularly beaten, punished, humiliated in every possible way and forced to participate in demonstrative executions at the risk of their lives.
Pros of The Handmaid’s Tale
But the series also has advantages. Firstly, the excellent acting and well-chosen cast. Secondly, there is an excellent soundtrack, visuals and form, for which this project is usually praised. So, in one of the scenes we can see a road sign on which a hand is drawn instead of the usual “STOP”. This is another confirmation of visual thoughtfulness, as women in Gilead are not allowed to read.
If you like well thought out dystopias, then the Handmaid’s Tale is likely to cause you some bewilderment. On the other hand, this is a great metaphor for what happened and can happen to the world in the distant (or not quite) future, and some of the things shown do not look completely implausible. If you are interested in the cross-cutting theme of the “Story”, then we recommend watching the already cult “Human Child” – a story about what will really happen to the world if children are no longer born.