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The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale
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The Handmaid's Tale Analysis
Literary Devices in The Handmaid's Tale
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
The novel is peppered with frequent allusions to different parts of the Bible. The most obvious is the reference to Genesis 30:1-3 (Epigraph), with its catchy phrase, "Give me children or else I di...
The Handmaid's Tale takes place in a city in what used to be in the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead. In this alternative future state, the democratic government has been overthrown...
Narrator Point of View
In this book, the narrator acts as the readers' eyes and ears. We see Gilead as she sees it; we interpret it as she interprets it; and our only knowledge of it comes from the tidbits she gives to u...
Science Fiction or Speculative Fiction?At first glance, The Handmaid's Tale seems to fit well into the genre of science fiction, with its new social caste system, alternate view of the future, an...
Let's face it, living in the Republic of Gilead sucks. Of course, it's worse for some than others, but even the most powerful don't have that great a time of it. So why sugarcoat something so awful...
The narrator speaks plainly and bluntly throughout the book. But despite her fascination with the texture of words, much of the time her words seem to cloak or obscure what really happened. The con...
What's Up With the Title?
If you skip ahead and turn to the back of the book, the way you might to find out whodunit in a murder mystery – not that Shmoop would know anything about that! – you find a brief, scholarly in...
What's Up With the Epigraph?
So, this book has three epigraphs, which in itself is kind of confusing. Let's take them one at a time.First, we've got Genesis:And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied h...
What's Up With the Ending?
You know the saying, is the glass half empty or half full? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Well, your natural level of optimism or pessimism is probably going to influence what you think happen...
Tricky narrative structure? Check. Lead character who may or may not be lying? Check. Lots of characters going by fake names or no names at all? Check. Uncomfortable subject matter? Check. Absence...
The narrator is sent to her "third posting," a position as Handmaid to the powerful Commander.This is pretty straightforward: the narrator arrives at a new location while explaining both her positi...
Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
The narrator is captured, sent to the Center, and assigned the position of Handmaid.The narrator is not alone in her capture and brainwashing; she is part of a select group of fertile women whom th...
Three-Act Plot Analysis
The narrator begins working as a Handmaid to a Commander and gradually becomes more involved with him, while also trying to find her way into the resistance and battling with flashbacks from her pa...
Did you know Margaret Atwood tweets? Follow her here.Atwood is one of the inventors of the Long PenTM (source).The Handmaid's Tale was made into an opera, with music by Poul Ruders (source).Atwood'...
One of the big ideas in Handmaid's Tale is reducing sex to less than the sum of its parts. Society has tried to eradicate pleasure and eroticism by depriving women of power and agency, and sex is s...
Gilead, a land mentioned in the BibleGenesis 30:1-3 (Epigraph)Whirlwind, Chariot, Behemoth (4.3)Mark 4:1-9 (4.13) (5.12)Stores names' that reference the Old Testament: Lilies of the Field, Milk and...
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