Skip Nav

The Handmaid's Tale

Study Questions

❶This doesn't seem to be much of a trade, along with losing freedoms such as literacy, passion, and communication. While many critics regard Atwood's novel as a rival to these works and a breakthrough contribution to an essentially male genre, others, most notably New York Times Book Review contributor Mary McCarthy, feel Atwood's novel lacks the satiric power and imagination of these earlier novels.


From the SparkNotes Blog
Navigate Guide
Margaret Atwood

Like a ubiquitous clerk or receptionist, she wishes her Handmaiden sisters to "have a nice day. Clustered about Janine and the other breeders is the pecking order of Gilead womanhood: Serena Joy is a composite drawn from Mirabel Morgan, Tammy Faye Baker, and Phyllis Schlafly; she is the true turncoat against women and must live with her futile hope for a return to traditional womanhood. Her own television career curtailed, Serena now suffers the pain of arthritis as her joints, like her compassion, freeze up.

Her hands, endlessly turning out geometrically cloned hominids on knitted wool scarves, reach for the effusive flowers that mock her sterility. Like Desdemona in Shakespeare's Othello , Serena associates herself with the willow, a gentle symbol of endless grief. Like Niobe, the weeping non-mother of Greek mythology, Serena has no choice but to support Offred in concubinage to the Commander and surreptitious couplings with Nick if the family is ever to produce a child. Next Themes of The Handmaid's Tale.

Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. The setting emphasizes the way Gilead has overturned the ideals embodied by an institution of learning, such as the free pursuit of knowledge and truth, and has literally enshrined in its place a regime of lies, oppression, torture, and the denial of every American ideal. How does Gilead create and use a new vocabulary to buttress its totalitarian order?

Gilead develops its own words to give the state control over the sentiments and ideas people can express. Since Gilead is a theocracy, where religion permeates every aspect of life, biblical terminology abounds.

Language is also used to subjugate women. Even daily speech is tightly controlled. Serena Joy, a traditionalist and anti-feminist, finds that she gets exactly what she has been campaigning for, and that this was not what she thought life should be like at all, as, in fact, she hadn't thought about it. Offred, as with the other handmaids, the subjects around whom the society of Gilead, was constructed found although they had been given security from fear of things such as robbery and rape, they still lived in fear.

But now the fear was a fear for their lives and that fear was constant. This doesn't seem to be much of a trade, along with losing freedoms such as literacy, passion, and communication.

Even the aunts, the spokeswomen for the Gilead regime, lived in constant fear of being shipped off to colonies at any moment as they themselves did not meet the requirements posed on the women by the new regime. The Genre of The Handmaids Tale assists responders in making meaning from the text. The Handmaid Tale falls into the genre of science-fiction or speculative fiction. A science-fiction or speculative fiction novel is one though which a writer imagines a possible future and creates a story set in that possible future, exploring all the trials and tribulations that come with it.

Suggested Essay Topics

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Free Handmaid's Tale Essays: The Handmaid's Dystopia - The Handmaid's Dystopia "The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is a dystopia about a world where unrealistic things take place. The events in the novel could never actually take place in our reality.".

Privacy FAQs

The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Handmaid's Tale.

About Our Ads

A Handmaid's Tale Essay - A Handmaid's Tale A new society is created by a group of people who strengthen and maintain their power by any means necessary including torture and death. Margaret Atwood's book, A Handmaid's Tale, can be compared to the morning after a bad fight within an abusive relationship. Sep 05,  · Welcome to the new SparkNotes! Your book-smartest friend just got a makeover. Our most popular lit guides now have twice as much helpful stuff, including writing guides, expanded quotes, and updated quick quizzes. Tell us what you think!

Cookie Info

The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood (Full name Margaret Eleanor Atwood) Canadian novelist, poet, short story writer, critic, editor, and children's writer. The following entry presents criticism. As a Handmaid, however, she thinks of her body as a cloud, surrounding a womb that is far more “real,” than she herself is. Offred’s comments show that even strong women come to see themselves as the state sees them, as prospective carriers of a new -generation of Gileadeans.