The Handmaid’s Tale and Humanity

The texts we have studied have provoked much discussion on the theme of humanity. In the novel Offred craves human contact. She hates the lack of love, the lack of emotion in Gilead. She says at one point, “But this is wrong, nobody dies from lack of sex. It’s lack of love we die from. There’s nobody here I can love, all the people I could love are dead or elsewhere.” Offred sees love as an essential part of society. For Offred to survive she has to feel human and to remember her past. To truly understand Offred we have to understand her pain and anguish. The fact that she has to repress her emotions adds tension to the book. As readers we want her feelings to be recognised but we don’t get that. We never know what happened to Luke, her mother, her daughter and others close to her. All we do get to know is that the Gileadean regime did not survive but those who experienced it had a bleak and terrifying lives. Once again we learn the unsettling lesson of how quickly people can be stripped of their basic humanity.

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