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In Margaret Atwood's near-future novel, "The Handmaid's Tale,"
a Christian fundamentalist regime called the Republic of Gilead
has staged a military coup and established a theocratic government
in the United States.
The regime theoretically restricts everyone,
but in practice a few men have structured Gilead so they have all the power,
especially over women.
The Handmaid's Tale is what Atwood calls speculative fiction,
meaning it theorizes about possible futures.
This is a fundamental characteristic
shared by both utopian and dystopian texts.
The possible futures in Atwood's novels are usually negative, or dystopian,
where the actions of a small group have destroyed society as we know it.
Utopian and dystopian writing tends to parallel political trends.
Utopian writing frequently depicts an idealized society
that the author puts forth as a blueprint to strive toward.
Dystopias, on the other hand,
are not necessarily predictions of apocalyptic futures,
but rather warnings about the ways in which societies can set themselves
on the path to destruction.
The Handmaid's Tale was published in 1985, when many conservative groups
attacked the gains made by the second-wave feminist movement.
This movement had been advocating greater social and legal equality for women
since the early 1960s.
The Handmaid's Tale imagines a future in which the conservative
counter-movement gains the upper hand
and not only demolishes the progress women had made toward equality,
but makes women completely subservient to men.
Gilead divides women in the regime into distinct social classes
based upon their function as status symbols for men.
Even their clothing is color-coded.
Women are no longer allowed to read
or move about freely in public,
and fertile women are subject to state-engineered rape
in order to give birth to children for the regime.
Although The Handmaid's Tale is set in the future,
one of Atwood's self-imposed rules in writing it
was that she wouldn't use any event
or practice that hadn't already happened in human history.
The book is set in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
a city that during the American colonial period
had been ruled by the theocratic Puritans.
In many ways, the Republic of Gilead resembles the strict rules
that were present in Puritan society:
rigid moral codes,
modest clothing,
banishment of dissenters,
and regulation of every aspect of people's lives and relationships.
For Atwood, the parallels to Massachusett's Puritans
were personal as well as theoretical.
She spent several years studying the Puritans at Harvard
and she's possibly descended from Mary Webster,
a Puritan woman accused of witchcraft who survived her hanging.
Atwood is a master storyteller.
The details of Gilead, which we've only skimmed the surface of,
slowly come into focus through the eyes of its characters,
mainly the novel's protagonist Offred,
a handmaid in the household of a commander.
Before the coup that established Gilead,
Offred had a husband, a child, a job, and a normal, middle-class American life.
But when the fundamentalist regime comes into power,
Offred is denied her identity,
separated from her family,
and reduced to being, in Offred's words,
"a two-legged womb for increasing Gilead's waning population."
She initially accepts the loss of her fundamental human rights
in the name of stabilizing the new government.
But state control soon extends into attempts to control the language,
behavior,
and thoughts of herself and other individuals.
Early on, Offred says,
"I wait. I compose myself.
My self is a thing I must compose, as one composes a speech."
She likens language to the formulation of identity.
Her words also acknowledge the possibility of resistance,
and it's resistance, the actions of people who dare to break the political,
intellectual,
and sexual rules,
that drives the plot of the Handmaid's Tale.
Ultimately, the novel's exploration of the consequences of complacency,
and how power can be wielded unfairly,
makes Atwood's chilling vision of a dystopian regime ever relevant.
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【TED-Ed】為何你該讀《侍女的故事》:反烏托邦小說代表的未來可能性 (Why should you read "The Handmaid's Tale"? - Naomi R. Mercer)

9664 分類 收藏
April Lu 發佈於 2018 年 8 月 1 日   April Lu 翻譯   HsiangLanLee 審核

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近期有一部美劇叫做《侍女的故事》,不知道你有沒有看呢?這部在今年才剛獲得了金球獎最佳戲劇類影集的作品,改編自加拿大作家瑪格麗特.愛特伍的同名小說,故事內容讓人看了糾結不已,也不禁讓人珍惜自己擁有的一切。跟著小 V 一起認識這部受歡迎的作品吧!

1theocratic0:18
theocratic 意思為「神權統治的」,名詞形態則是 theocracy ;其中字首 theo- 代表「神」,字根 -cracy 則有「統治、統領」的意思。其他相關常見詞彙還有: autocracy (獨裁統治) ,為字首 auto- (自我的、自己的) 加上 -cracy ; democracy (民主) ,為 demo- (人民) 加上  -cracy 。
Ancient Egypt was led by a theocratic government.
古埃及由神權政府統治。

The Romanov royalty was overthrown due to their autocracy.
羅曼諾夫王朝因他們的極權統治而被推翻。


*同場加映:
正義:什麼是正確的事?(Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?)


2utopian0:43
utopian 一詞意為「烏托邦式的、完美世界的」,延伸義還有「理想的、空想的 」;名詞形態為 utopia ,反烏托邦則是再加上字首 dys- (不良) ,成為 dystopia 。 烏托邦的概念來自於十六世紀英國哲學家湯瑪斯摩爾 (Thomas More) 的《烏托邦》一書,其中描述了一個擁有完美社會體制的理想化社會,這個字於是被後世所沿用,代表這種理想國的概念。
Zhuangzi illustrated a utopian world in his literary works.
莊子在他的文學著作裡描述了一個烏托邦式的世界。


*同場加映:
【TED】歐伊·蒂利特·萊特:同性戀的五十道漸層 (iO Tillett Wright: Fifty shades of gay)


3apocalyptic1:13
是芥末日來了!?apocalyptic 意思為「世界末日的、預示大災難的、決定性的」,這個字源自於來自希臘文的 apocalypse,意思是「世界末日」;另一個可以用來表示世界末日的字為 doomsday 。
The year of 2012 was said to be the apocalypse.
2012 年曾被稱為是世界末日。


*同場加映:
如果我們殺了所有的蚊子 (What If We Killed All the Mosquitoes?)


4subservient1:49
subservient 的意思有「恭順的、屈從的、低聲下氣的、卑躬屈膝的、有幫助的、充當下手的」,近義詞有 obedient 、submissive 和 deferential。
Mary loathes those subservient flatterers and would never work with them.
Mary 厭惡那些卑躬屈膝的馬屁精,她永遠不會和他們共事。

Stop being so subservient! You're no less than others.
別再那麼低聲下氣了!你並不比別人差。


*同場加映:
【TED】為什麼我認為虐待女性是頭號人權侵犯問題 (Jimmy Carter: Why I believe the mistreatment of women is the number one human rights abuse)


5wane3:33
wane 的詞性為動詞,意思是「衰減、衰退、減少、減弱、 (月亮) 陰晴圓缺」,同義詞有許多,比如 decrease 、 diminish 、decline 、shrink、subside 。
The transformation of werewolves depends on the waning of the moon.
狼人的轉別取決於月亮的陰晴圓缺。


*同場加映:
什麼!早起的人未必比晚睡的人有優勢?(Early Birds vs Night Owls)


社會就是需要廣納多方的意見才能夠進步,一個為了少數既得利益者所創立的體制絕非長久之計。看完了這支影片,是不是也對這本書或這部影集感興趣了呢?

文/ April Lu

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