Comment on the dystopian elements in Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

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The Handmaid's Tale is set in a dystopian near-future world where reactionary Christian fundamentalists have seized control of the government and set up a totalitarian theocracy. Any deviations from the government's strict interpretations of Christian behavior are harshly punished. Offred, the main character, is cut off from the normal flows of information that one would have access to in a free society, such as newspapers or magazines. She has to assume she is being spied on and be extremely careful about what she says. She is forced to pass dead bodies hanging on walls as she goes to market. The bodies are graphic reminders of the power of the state and are meant to terrify people into obedience.

Offred has no control over her body or destiny. She is a handmaid, forced to sleep with a commander, a powerful man in this society, because his older wife is infertile. Infertility is a serious problem, and Offred's having had a child consigns her to the fate of being treated as a breeding...

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