It is an emblematic quality of dystopian novels to incorporate an exaggerated level of totalitarianism and oppression, typically guided by extreme distribution of wealth and forced equality.
This kind of system, oftentimes ruled by a small team of elite and powerful figureheads, is generally portrayed as a domineering regime that strips the characters of their humanity as they teeter along the line between submission and defiance.
While Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood tells the story of a woman inadvertently joining a resistant movement in a heavy-handed system, it poses a stark contrast to other novels by portraying the society has one that is heavily based on different hierarchal statuses, especially with regards to women. What sets this novel apart in comparison its peers is its concentration on the different roles provided for females in this fundamentalist society as opposed to those of the men’s. In doing this, Atwood introduces the possibility for this story to be interpreted a post-feminist commentary that highlights society’s relapse into an “outdated” and extreme mentality.
Handmaid’s Tale cleverly tells of a new world centered on women, albeit controlled and regulated by men. Atwood’s success in portraying Offred’s story in such a cold and effective manner is in her unique prose, which comes full circle in the epilogue—a chapter that, by popular opinion, can be considered the most groundbreaking part of the book. Its full comprehension is necessary in order to gain complete insight into the life of Offred and the Republic of Gilead. In other words, with a general understanding of the feminist movement and a full grasp of the epilogue, Atwood’s novel is certain to provide a riveting insight into the human mind, the boundaries of cruelty and a new perspective of societal standards and gender roles.
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