The Handmaid’s Tale has been compared to other cautionary tales, such as Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Margaret Atwood says that she feels there is at least one way her novel is like Nineteen Eighty-Four.
”You’ll notice,” she says, “and not many people have, that the section on Newspeak at the end of Nineteen Eighty-Four talks about Newspeak in the past tense. It’s written in ordinary language, not Newspeak. The obvious implication from that is that the regime has fallen, that someone in the future, we don’t know who, has lived to tell the tale and to write this analysis of Newspeak in the past tense.
”And my book isn’t totally bleak and pessimistic either, for several reasons. The central character – the Handmaid Offred – gets out. The possibility of escape exists. A society exists in the future which is not the society of Gilead and is capable of reflecting about the society of Gilead in the same way that we reflect about the 17th century. Her little message in a bottle has gotten through to someone – which is about all we can hope, isn’t it?”