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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

  

by Margaret Atwood

Analysis: Allusions

When authors refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.

Biblical References

  • Gilead, a land mentioned in the Bible
  • Genesis 30:1-3 (Epigraph)
  • Whirlwind, Chariot, Behemoth (4.3)
  • Mark 4:1-9 (4.13)
  • Store names that reference the Old Testament: Lilies of the Field, Milk and Honey, All Flesh (5)
  • Isaiah 40:6 (8.21)
  • Luke 23:34 (8.217)
  • Deuteronomy 17: 6 (11.24)
  • Matthew 5.5 (12.12)
  • The Bible (15.4)
  • Genesis 8:17, 30:1-8, 30:18 (15.20, 39)
  • The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-13 (15.21)
  • 2 Chronicles 16.9 (15.54)
  • 1 Corinthians 13:13 (19.5-6)
  • Jezebel (19.27)
  • Genesis 3:16 (19.38)
  • St. Paul, Acts (20.5)
  • Jesus (21.25, 25.86)
  • Book of Job (28.16)
  • The Lord's Prayer (referenced throughout 11.30)
  • 1 Timothy 2:12 (34.18-24)
  • The Whore of Babylon (38.13)
  • The Crucifixion (45.2)
  • The Old Testament (Historical Notes.28)

Art and Literary References

  • Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal (Epigraph)
  • Sufi proverb (Epigraph)
  • Little Red Riding Hood (2.11)
  • The Shape of Things to Come (8.25)
  • Les Sylphides (ballet music) (13.6)
  • "The Night Before Christmas" (17.7)
  • Tennyson (25.29)
  • Raymond Chandler (29.9)
  • Charles Dickens, Hard Times (29.9)
  • The Sabine Women (painting) (29.38)
  • Krishna and Kali (Historical Notes.6)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer (Historical Notes.12)
  • William Wordsworth, "Preface" to the Lyrical Ballads (Historical Notes.20)

Historical References

  • Beethoven (8.6)
  • Queen Victoria (16.8)
  • Saints of the Darker Ages (24.10)
  • Nazis (24.18)
  • The Renaissance (25.54)
  • Edwardian period (25.55)
  • Venus de Milo (29.37)
  • Colosseum (29.37)
  • The Warsaw Tactic (Historical Notes.6)

Pop Culture References

  • Humphrey Bogart (5.13)
  • Lauren Bacall (5.13)
  • Katharine Hepburn (5.13)
  • Tarzan (7.20)
  • Time (8.21)
  • Newsweek (8.21)
  • "Amazing Grace" (10.2)
  • "Heartbreak Hotel" (10.4)
  • Weight Watchers (13.17)
  • Oklahoma! (14.47)
  • Agent Orange (19.40)
  • Scrabble (23.43-46 and frequently throughout remainder of book)
  • Vogue (25.51)
  • "In god we trust" (28.17)
  • Mademoiselle (29.9)
  • Esquire (29.9)
  • Ms. (29.9)
  • Reader's Digest (29.9)
  • There is a Balm in Gilead (34.4)
  • Elvis Presley's Golden Years (Historical Notes.17)
  • Folk Songs of Lithuania (Historical Notes.17)
  • Boy George Takes It Off (Historical Notes.17)
  • Mantovani's Mellow Strings (Historical Notes.17)
  • Twisted Sister at Carnegie Hall (Historical Notes.17)

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