YMMV: The Handmaid's Tale

  • Anvilicious / Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped
  • Fridge Logic: The majority of the men in this society are a) armed and b) do not expect to have a chance at a woman — read: any legal sexual outlet whatsoever — unless they're really, really lucky because those government-run brothels are only for the high-ranking members of the government and foreign officials. Gilead shouldn't have lasted seven weeks, let alone seven years.
    • It's mentioned that some soldiers are hanged for "gender treachery" (i.e. turning to homosexual sex, probably due to this), but that just means a revolt should have been even likelier.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The destruction of the government is blamed on Muslim terrorists initially, giving far-right forces an excuse to declare martial law, suspend the Constitution, and institute their own perverse version of fundamentalist Christianity.
  • Nightmare Fuel: A surprising amount.
    • A snippet from the book.
    "But WHOSE fault was it?"
    "Her fault. Her fault. Her fault."
    "WHO led them on?"
    "She did. She did. She did."
    "And why would God allow such a terrible thing to happen?"
    "Teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson."
    • Now factor this in: they were talking about a 14-year old girl being gang-raped.
    • The Colonies. You really don't want to be sent there. They're used for cleaning up nuclear waste until they die from the radiation poisoning. It's basically gulags. Also hinted is that "the Children of Ham" (black people), who are supposedly sent to "national homelands" (a la South Africa) may in fact be suffering extermination.
      • While we learn the (possible) fates of the black and Jewish populations, there is no mention of other ethnic or religious groups. What about the Asian, Middle Eastern, First Nation, etc, groups? We don't know, but we can imagine that it was horrifying.
    • The whole concept of being a Handmaid. You're forcibly indoctrinated (including such charming little exercises as the one shown above) and then essentially passed around the upper echelons of the military. You're blamed if you're not fertile, even though it's most likely the men who own you that are sterile. If you don't manage to get pregnant with three successive households, you're declared defective and packed off to the colonies to die of radiation poisoning or slave labor. If you do actually manage to get pregnant and carry the child to term, it's taken away from you except for feeding times and, as soon as it's weaned, you're off to another family to start the whole miserable process over again.
      • Particicution, where the women vent their frustrations on male "criminals" (in one case a political dissenter) by ripping him to pieces with their bare hands. During that scene in the book, Janine, who's had at least two "shredder" babies finally loses her shit and wanders around with a bloody chunk of the person's scalp in her hand and a vacant grin on her face.
  • Sci-Fi Ghetto: Margaret Atwood insists the book is Speculative Fiction, but not Science Fiction. "Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen." The book won the first Arthur C. Clarke award in 1987.
    • There are signs that Atwood's mellowed since then and the book is taught in University literature courses at least in Canada, France and the Netherlands.