The Handmaid's Tale is a distopian novel of tightly wound truths and links to our society today. It is so tightly wound, like a thorn bush, that gaining any meaning from it at all proves to be a very arduous task indeed for those who are not predisposed to do so. Nevertheless, some meaning did present itself during the text, as follows.
The truth that is privileged in The Handmaid's Tale is that societies/regimes based on totalitarianism and extremism are not satisfactory for anyone involved. Even though they may in theory be an improvement, in practice they fall dismally short of the mark. This truth is apparent in every aspect of The Handmaid's tale. The commander, for instance one of those key men responsible for the creation of
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A science-fiction or speculative fiction novel is one though which a writer imagines a possible future and creates a story set in that possible future, exploring all the trials and tribulations that come with it. The Handmaids Tale takes issues and aspects of life as it is today, and exaggerates and blows them out of proportion to a point in the future, where these same aspects of life have become the most extreme mutants of their former selves imaginable, helping the responder to think about what they depend on and who/what is leading their life. Knowing that the Genre of The Handmaids Tale is science-fiction helps the responder to understand where the author is going with the text, and to identify which points of society the author is focusing on, thus assisting the responder to gain meaning from the text.
The intertexual links in The Handmaids Tale on the whole assist responders who have an understanding/knowledge of the linked texts. This understanding assists responders in the way that they are thus faced with less questions to answer when reading the text and trying to make a meaning of it than responders who have no knowledge of the linked texts, and thus have to do some extra reading to make an understanding of the text.
One example of this intertextual assistance is in the third quotation at the beginning of the text, it reads; In the desert there is no sign that says thou shalt not eat stones'