Canadian values Being Canadian is about more than just being a stereotype. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Canadian author Margaret Atwood not only makes an insightful commentary on social inequality, but also demonstrates what it truly means to be Canadian. This novel shows that to truly exemplify the values of Canada one must believe in freedom, differing viewpoints, and strive for an equal society. To begin, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the not too distant future where a religious regime has taken over America. In this new society people have less freedom than ever, specifically the women. Some of the most important freedoms that are taken away are freedom access to education, freedom to love who you want, and the freedom of expression. First, a fundamental freedom that is taken away is freedom to education. In this new society people are forbidden to read and write. In fact, new schools were created in order to indoctrinate women into Gilead, “Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary” (Atwood 38). If people are not able to read about the past they are much more accepting of their backwards society because it is all they know. Next, the freedom to love who you want is also taken away from women. Instead, they are assigned to men for the sole purpose of child bearing. In this world, relationships are sterile from all love. Offred, the main character, says, “I hunger to touch something, other than cloth or wood. I hunger to commit the act of touch” (Atwood 12). She yearns for love and is constantly daydreaming about the love she once had with her husband. Lastly, the freedom of expression has also been taken away. In this society, woman are forced to wear clothing that corresponds to their social class and role, “Some in red, some in the dull green of the Marthas, some in the striped dresses, red and blue and green and cheap and skimp, that mark the women of the poorer men” (Atwood 27). Without the freedom of expression all individuality is lost to the point where people become easily replaceable. To conclude, Atwood uses The Handmaid’s Tale to both show the importance of freedom and what happens when those freedoms are taken away. An important aspect of being Canadian is cherishing and protecting our freedoms as well as the freedoms of others. To continue, this novel shows a world where contention to the values of Gilead is punishable by death. To live in a truly fair society differing opinions must be allowed. The negative effects of a society without differing opinions can be seen when examining Gilead’s social values, religion, and the family. First, Gilead’s society is troubling for a plethora of reasons. When differing opinions are silenced it becomes impossibly difficult to make any societal improvements. This is the reason that Gilead will never change if the regime is left in control. Next, when everyone is forced to follow one religion it ruins the sanctity of that religion because many of them do not actually believe in it. This is abundantly clear with the Soul Scrolls. Soul Scrolls are machines that “print prayers, roll upon roll, prayers going out endlessly” (Atwood 192). These machines serve as a symbol of how devolved religion has become. What used to be holy has been reduced to a machine printing prayers, endlessly. Lastly, the lack of differing opinions is also seen to have a negative effect on the family. Family is supposed to be a place to turn to for love and support. However, in Gilead this is radically different. The religious regime that took over has completely destroyed the traditional family. This is clearly evident when Offred thinks about her daughter, “She fades, I can’t keep her here with me, she’s gone now. Maybe I do think of her as a ghost” (Atwood 72). Gilead authorities took her daughter away to give to a wealthy family. In this new society no one is a willing member of a family, and with no differing opinions this will never change. To conclude, differing opinions are a key component of a healthy society. These opinions are important for the improvement of society. A Canadian should not only listen to differing opinions, but actively search them out as they can change how one views many issues and the world. Finally, The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of the extremely unequal society of Gilead. The inequality of this society is clearly seen when examining gender and wealth. First, the social status between genders is Gilead is massive. Women are treated like property while the men rule and police the country. Gilead’s culture only benefits the men, Offred notes, “Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse for some” (Atwood 244). When men are the only ones benefiting from society’s structure, women will continue to be given less and less power while men are simultaneously given more. Next, wealth also plays a role in the social disparity of Gilead. The wealthy and powerful Commanders and Wives sit at the top while Handmaids, Marthas, and Ecowives are at the bottom to serve them. Ecowives feel the brunt of this disparity as “these women are not divided into functions. They have to do everything, if they can” (Atwood 27). This creates a problem for the wealthy of Gilead because it increases the likelihood of these poorer classes wanting to revolt, as seen by the resistance throughout the novel. To conclude, a good society needs to work together to truly thrive. An unequal society is deeply problematic because it stunts collaboration and ideas from those seen as lesser, as well as dismisses what these people have to say. To exemplify Canadian values one must actively work towards a more equal society. In conclusion, Margaret Atwood makes a powerful statement about many social issues and demonstrates what Canadians can do to embody the values of Canada. The Handmaid’s Tale can be a cautionary tale of what happens when social inequality is taken to the extreme. To be Canadian means to protect and value the freedoms, differing opinions, and equal society Canada has, and to continue to work on the betterment and advancement of society.