There are perhaps parallels between Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and the at-times senseless exercise of power (in both the public and private realms) in Measure for Measure, but what we cannot doubt is the portrayal of authoritarian regimes in both that allude to the age we live in.
Back in 1984, the main premise seemed — even to me — fairly outrageous. Would I be able to persuade readers that the United States had suffered a coup that had transformed an erstwhile liberal democracy into a literal-minded theocratic dictatorship? In the book, the Constitution and Congress are no longer: The Republic of Gilead is built on a foundation of the 17th-century Puritan roots that have always lain beneath the modern-day America we thought we knew.
Read the full essay by Atwood on The New York Times website.