The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book

Hulu’s The Handmaids Tale has amassed a huge fan base that awaits the arrival of season 4. Here’s 10 ways the series is more violent than the books.

Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale were disappointed to learn that the release of season 4 will be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, all three seasons are available to be rewatched on Hulu and Margaret Atwood’s books The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments are a must-read while preparing to dive back into this dystopian universe.

Although the TV series is based on the book by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale diverges from the book in many ways. While some fans enjoy the creative license and continuation of the story, others worry that increasingly violent elements are being added to The Handmaid’s Tale for the shock value and to bring in more viewers. The increasing violence in the series often mirrors atrocities that have been carried out all over the world. Still, perhaps it sometimes goes too far and adds elements that don’t make sense for the storyline. Read on to learn about 10 times the TV series was far more violent than the book.

Janine’s Eye

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

In both the book and the TV series, Janine has an especially difficult time with her new life as a Handmaid. Her mental state is incredibly fragile and she suffers an emotional breakdown after giving birth to a child for the Putnam family.

However, the TV series adds an element that was not included in the book – Janine’s eye is gouged out at the Red Center for speaking disrespectfully to Aunt Lydia. Although Janine has both eyes in the book, Gilead often uses Bible quotes (“If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out”) to justify its terrifying laws, so Janine losing an eye isn’t a stretch.

Mrs. Waterford’s Finger

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

The TV series does an excellent job showing that even the highest-ranking women in Gilead society are still oppressed. In “The Word” Mrs. Waterford proposes to a council meeting of all men, that women and girls be allowed to be taught to read Scripture.

She then reads a passage from the Bible, an act that is forbidden for women in Gilead. Instead of having her proposal considered, her husband allows the punishment for reading to be carried out on Mrs. Waterford, and her pinkie finger is amputated.

The Handmaids’ Punishment

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

At the end of season 1, the Handmaids are ordered to stone Janine to death because she endangered the life of her baby. However, they refuse to kill her in an act of defiance led by June. It is not until season 2 that the audience sees how seriously the Handmaids are punished.

They are first put through a mock execution that they believe to be real, then forced to stand in the rain for hours holding rocks, and finally, and most graphically, they are handcuffed to a stove while the burner is turned on. This whole series of punishment is nauseating and hard to watch, but Gilead has shown countless times that no method of torture is too extreme to silence the defiant.

The Last Ceremony

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

Rape is a part of life in Gilead. Each month, the Handmaids are raped in a ceremony by their commander, in the hopes that they will become pregnant. These ceremonies are detailed in Atwood’s book as “not exciting” and “nothing to do with passion or love or romance.”

The Handmaids have time to prepare and detach themselves from the situation. This is how they are displayed in the TV series until the episode “The Last Ceremony.” June is raped outside of The Ceremony by her commander and it is even more disturbing to see her fight back and be held down by Mrs. Waterford.

Genital Mutilation

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

In both the book and the TV series, June’s original walking partner, Ofglen, is part of a secret resistance called Mayday. In the book, little of her story is known and she commits suicide when her involvement with Mayday is discovered.

In the TV series, however, it is discovered that she is a “gender traitor,” Gilead’s backward name for LGBT people. Since Emily can bear children, she is forced to undergo female genital mutilation surgery rather than be executed. This event follows Atwood’s rule of historical significance, as genital mutilation still occurs often in parts of the world.

The Resistance

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale were disappointed to learn that the release of season 4 will be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, all three seasons are available to be rewatched on Hulu and Margaret Atwood’s books The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments are a must-read while preparing to dive back into this dystopian universe.

RELATED:
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Most Gut-Wrenching Moments From Gilead

Although the TV series is based on the book by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale diverges from the book in many ways. While some fans enjoy the creative license and continuation of the story, others worry that increasingly violent elements are being added to The Handmaid’s Tale for the shock value and to bring in more viewers. The increasing violence in the series often mirrors atrocities that have been carried out all over the world. Still, perhaps it sometimes goes too far and adds elements that don’t make sense for the storyline. Read on to learn about 10 times the TV series was far more violent than the book.

Content warning: This article discusses themes of graphic violence and sexual assault.
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10 Janine’s Eye

In both the book and the TV series, Janine has an especially difficult time with her new life as a Handmaid. Her mental state is incredibly fragile and she suffers an emotional breakdown after giving birth to a child for the Putnam family.

However, the TV series adds an element that was not included in the book – Janine’s eye is gouged out at the Red Center for speaking disrespectfully to Aunt Lydia. Although Janine has both eyes in the book, Gilead often uses Bible quotes (“If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out”) to justify its terrifying laws, so Janine losing an eye isn’t a stretch.
9 Mrs. Waterford’s Finger

The TV series does an excellent job showing that even the highest-ranking women in Gilead society are still oppressed. In “The Word” Mrs. Waterford proposes to a council meeting of all men, that women and girls be allowed to be taught to read Scripture.

She then reads a passage from the Bible, an act that is forbidden for women in Gilead. Instead of having her proposal considered, her husband allows the punishment for reading to be carried out on Mrs. Waterford, and her pinkie finger is amputated.
8 The Handmaids’ Punishment

At the end of season 1, the Handmaids are ordered to stone Janine to death because she endangered the life of her baby. However, they refuse to kill her in an act of defiance led by June. It is not until season 2 that the audience sees how seriously the Handmaids are punished.

RELATED:
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Quotes That Will Terrify And Inspire You

They are first put through a mock execution that they believe to be real, then forced to stand in the rain for hours holding rocks, and finally, and most graphically, they are handcuffed to a stove while the burner is turned on. This whole series of punishment is nauseating and hard to watch, but Gilead has shown countless times that no method of torture is too extreme to silence the defiant.
7 The Last Ceremony

Rape is a part of life in Gilead. Each month, the Handmaids are raped in a ceremony by their commander, in the hopes that they will become pregnant. These ceremonies are detailed in Atwood’s book as “not exciting” and “nothing to do with passion or love or romance.”

The Handmaids have time to prepare and detach themselves from the situation. This is how they are displayed in the TV series until the episode “The Last Ceremony.” June is raped outside of The Ceremony by her commander and it is even more disturbing to see her fight back and be held down by Mrs. Waterford.
6 Genital Mutilation

In both the book and the TV series, June’s original walking partner, Ofglen, is part of a secret resistance called Mayday. In the book, little of her story is known and she commits suicide when her involvement with Mayday is discovered.

In the TV series, however, it is discovered that she is a “gender traitor,” Gilead’s backward name for LGBT people. Since Emily can bear children, she is forced to undergo female genital mutilation surgery rather than be executed. This event follows Atwood’s rule of historical significance, as genital mutilation still occurs often in parts of the world.
5 The Resistance

In the TV series, Handmaids take a more active role in fighting back against the oppressive regime of Gilead. Emily steals a car and kills a guard, poisons a commander’s wife in the Colonies, and stabs Aunt Lydia. Moira kills a commander at Jezebels and escapes to Canada.

June eventually takes a more active role in the Resistance and allows Eleanor to die from an overdose because she feels she is a liability in her plan to free a group of children from Gilead. She also kills a commander named Winslow who attempts to rape her. Finally and perhaps most notably, Ofglen #2 bombs the new Rachel and Leah Center after having her tongue removed for speaking out against stoning Janine.

Uncooperative Pregnant Handmaids

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

In the episode “June,” Aunt Lydia reveals what happens to Handmaids who attempt to interfere with the pregnancies they have forced upon them. Aunt Lydia shows June a pregnant Handmaid named Ofwyatt, who is chained in a prison-like room for drinking drain cleaner.

June later suffers this fate due to her attempted escape while pregnant. This method of isolation torture seems a little over-the-top, but considering that Gilead’s most prized possession is a healthy baby, it’s not unlikely that they would do whatever it takes to ensure a successful pregnancy.

Ofmatthew

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

In the third season, June is assigned a new shopping partner named Ofmatthew, who is deeply devoted to her new life in Gilead. When Ofmatthew reports a Martha for helping June contact her daughter, June and the other Handmaids ostracise her. June also exposes Ofmatthew’s doubts about her current pregnancy, which she is publicly shamed for.

Later, Ofmatthew snaps at the grocery store. She begins beating Janine and steals a gun from a guard, but she is shot before she can kill anyone. Ofmatthew serves as a visual representation of the mental stress placed on even the most devoted Handmaid.

Eden’s Death

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

In the episode “Seeds,” Nick is given a very young wife named Eden, who he mostly ignores due to his feelings for June. This causes Eden to eventually elope with a Guardian named Isaac. When Eden and Isaac are caught, she is given the option to repent and potentially save her own life, but she refuses. Although in terms of blood and gore, the execution scene is relatively mild, it is still incredibly difficult to watch.

Eden chooses to be publicly drowned in a swimming pool with her lover. Her situation shows that even the “more fortunate” women of Gilead are doomed to loveless marriages where they are merely servants to their husbands. Eden’s death is so heartbreaking because it shows that she would rather die than renounce her love for Isaac and go back to Nick.

The Rings

The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Times It's Far More Violent Than The Book
The Handmaid’s Tale: 10 Times It’s Far More Violent Than The Book

In the episode “Household,” June takes a trip to Washington, D.C., where she encounters Handmaids who are in an even more unfortunate state than her own. The Handmaids in D.C. wear red cloths over their mouths, along with their red cloaks and bonnets. June soon finds out with horror that these Handmaids also have metal rings pierced through their mouths to keep them from talking.

While the shock factor and the metaphor of silencing women are poignant, the extreme violence of these piercing metal rings doesn’t really make sense. It is often expressed that keeping the Handmaids physically healthy is vitally important, considering they are valued based on their ability to have children. With this in mind, installing rings that could potentially cause issues with a Handmaid’s ability to eat and drink seems pretty nonsensical when the cloth coverings would be just as effective at silencing them.

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