In addition: “[The repeated patterns] also allow, through variations, an emotionally and intellectually complicating emphasis upon difference and change. The broad pattern of human life, from youth to maturity to death, remains constant, but individual circumstances within the pattern inevitably differ, creating different possibilities and problems.” 11
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 20 works of fiction. “The Handmaid’s Tale” will be released by Hulu as a 10-part television series in April, and this essay is the introduction to the new Anchor paperback edition to be published on April 11.
The beats and then hippies of the 1950s and 60s wanted to throw a wrench into this merry-go-round. They inverted and subverted the traditional status hierarchy by appropriating the values and culture of those on the bottom — African-Americans, blue collar laborers, and drifters of all kinds. These types were celebrated in the idea that though they were poorer and more oppressed, they operated outside the conformity of mainstream society. Just as importantly, they were more virile and masculine than the emasculated cogs content to sublimate their passions to the corporate machine. Quartz marks this inversion of the status hierarchy as the birth of “Rebel Cool.”
I hope in these days we have heard the last of conformity and consistency. Let the words be gazetted and ridiculous henceforward. Instead of the gong for dinner, let us hear a whistle from the Spartan fife. Let us bow and apologize never more. A great man is coming to eat at my house. I do not wish to please him; I wish that he should wish to please me. I will stand here for humanity, and though I would make it kind, I would make it true. Let us affront and reprimand the smooth mediocrity and squalid contentment of the times, and hurl in the face of custom and trade and office, the fact which is the upshot of all history, that there is a great responsible Thinker and Actor moving wherever moves a man; that a true man belongs to no other time or place, but is the center of things. Where he is, there is nature. He measures you and all men and all events. You are constrained to accept his standard. Ordinarily, every body in society reminds us of somewhat else, or of some other person. Character, reality, reminds you of nothing else; it takes place of the whole creation. The man must be so much that he must make all circumstances indifferent put all means into the shade. This all great men are and do. Every true man is a cause, a country, and an age; requires infinite spaces and numbers and time fully to accomplish his thought; and posterity seem to follow his steps as a procession. A man Caesar is born, and for ages after we have a Roman Empire. Christ is born, and millions of minds so grow and cleave to his genius that he is confounded with virtue and the possible of man. An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man; as, the Reformation, of Luther; Quakerism, of Fox; Methodism, of Wesley; Abolition, of Clarkson. Scipio , Milton called "the height of Rome;" and all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons.