Read the analysis of a powerful dystopian web series, The Handmaid’s Tale, to compare the contemporary authoritarian times with ones highlighted in the web series. 

The Handmaid’s Tale is an American dystopian web series based on Margaret Atwood’s novel. It revolves around the theocratic government of Gilead, where women have no purpose other than bearing off-springs, and men are the ones with all the authority. 

The makers of the show have released three seasons as of now, and these revolve around the lives of the ruling elite of Gilead. The authoritarian government of Gilead views fertile women as mere natal slaves who are allowed to play limited roles. These women, called the Handmaids, are assigned to the homes of the ruling elite and are subjected to ritualized rape which is called ‘the ceremony.’

The ritual is a monthly practice that continues until the handmaid conceives. After conceiving, the handmaid is treated fairly nicely by everyone to make sure that the handmaid does not escape with the child. If they fail to submit to their masters, handmaids are severely punished. The punishment for reading for women is a chopped-off finger.

The civil war in the United States resulted in the establishment of Gilead. Homosexuals, old, and handicapped women are sent away to work at sites with high nuclear radiations, which slowly kills them. The Marthas are cooks and housekeepers, just with one duty, and that is caring for the homes of the elite. Girls are forced to marry older men at a very young age. There are heavy restrictions on what the people of Gilead can wear.

The plot of the show is extremely compelling, and consists of a cliffhanger at the end of each episode. The protagonist of the show, June Osborn, is captured while trying to escape to Canadaand is assigned to the Waterford family as a handmaid.

The entirety of the show thrives on the emotions of gloominess, suffering, and faint hope. For most offenses, the punishment is death by hanging in public. The government is extreme in every action it takes.

Tejasvi, a student of Lady Shri Ram College says, “The show is so engaging, it almost feels like we are living this reality. The plot is unique and keeps you at the edge of your seat the entire time.”

Feature image credits- Glamour

Suhani Malhotra

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