Resenha O conto da Aia

I can say that this book was one of the most challenging readings of my life. And it isn’t due to its form, its language but due to its content.

And the most terrible thing about it is not that it relates fictional atrocious situations, but because, according to the author, who did a lot of research, they really happened somewhere, sometime. What’s worse, something very similar is happening now in some societies and could happen in ours as well.

The character tells us about her life and her new world in a Christian Theocracy – The Republic of Gilead. There, people’s lives and behaviors are based on a very literal interpretation of the Bible. Obviously, we are speaking about the Old Testament.

Regarding that, I have observed three key ingredients that are necessary to establish a totalitarian regime like that in “The Handmaid’s Tale”: fragility, passivity, and ignorance.

Ignorance: Not having a critical awareness of present facts and their future consequences.

Fragility: Being easily convinced, influenced, and manipulated in the face of adverse circumstances.

Passivity: Accepting your ignorance and fragility, surrendering to power structures without reacting.

That said I think, that although it is very uncomfortable, reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” is necessary. This way we can see how these three bad ingredients are capable of rotting a society very quickly.

And even if the lives of all people have changed, the worst and most abject life was reserved for women.

For this reason, when I was reading the book, I caught myself judging the characters, and above all, the female characters before the establishment of the Republic of Gilead. I thought they were very passive in face of the situations that were emerging little by little and limiting their spaces of existence.

The truth is they were deeply immersed in life and everyday problems.

There were women who realized what was happening, but obviously, they were a very small group. They were noisy and, at the same time, voiceless. Unfortunately, their worst nightmare became true. And then, what more could they say? “I warned”?

I think that they didn’t have time to say anything. They were certainly the first victims in the new system.

So, the story is not told by one of them. It’s told by one of the women who I have judged as passive. Perhaps her tendency to accept and conform more easily enabled her to live, to survive long enough to describe and warn us about what can happen to us as well.

The story is very distressing, agonizing, and grinding. Maybe because it’s so realistic that we can feel, smell, and almost touch it.

As I said, people’s ignorance, fragility, and passivity in the previous Republic of Gilead society are common gateways for any dictatorship. And, I think we are today letting these gateways very open too.

My suggestion: read it.
My advice: read it mindfully.

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