The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
The Bible and Religion
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...
Eyes and Seeing
"Eyes" are the spies who work for the government and are situated throughout Gilead. Anyone could be an Eye, and the assumption is that characters are always being watched. It's really interesting...
Fertility and Sex
Gilead rose to power in large part because no one was making babies any more. Even though baby-making is a two-person process, society has shifted all the blame for infertility onto women: There is...
Throughout the book, the narrator makes references to or compares women to flowers. For example, the Commander and Serena Joy's house is completely doused in floral imagery: there's a "watercolor p...
The idea of eggs comes up frequently in the book. With each mention we're reminded that they're part of a human woman's reproductive cycle, even though usually what the narrator is doing is eating...
See our discussion in "Character Clues: Clothing."
The Republic of Gilead (Cambridge, MA)
See our discussion in "Setting."
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