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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale


Margaret Atwood

 Table of Contents

The Handmaid's Tale Themes

The Handmaid's Tale Themes


In The Handmaid's Tale, nearly everyone's identity has been stripped away. Although the most powerful have more privileges than some of the others, everyone has been renamed and repositioned. Women...


Children are precious, rare commodities in the world of The Handmaid's Tale. The production of children has become the Republic of Gilead's overarching goal, governing nearly every aspect of life....


The Republic of Gilead honors and privileges first marriages to the extreme. Second wives with children are rounded up as the likeliest candidates to become Handmaids. Everyone acts like it's perfe...


In a sense, everyone is required to be passive in The Handmaid's Tale, but women have it worse because they no longer have any financial or social power. (The Aunts at the Center are an exception,...


Love is more remembered than practiced in The Handmaid's Tale. Even when the characters have feelings for each other, they try to fight them off because strong emotions are dangerous. There's nothi...

Women and Femininity

Women aren't supposed to use their minds in the world of The Handmaid's Tale. They're forbidden from reading, working outside the home, or even spending money. The small minority who are fertile ar...

The Home

There is a clear distinction between house and home in The Handmaid's Tale. Handmaids are placed in other people's homes, which to them are just houses. There's no reason for them to feel at home t...

Freedom and Confinement

In the society of The Handmaid's Tale, even the powerful live very restricted lives, but the Handmaids, confined to their bedrooms except for sanctioned outings to grocery stores, childbearing Cere...

Reading, Writing, and Storytelling

We never quite know what's true in The Handmaid's Tale; even when people state their names, they're lying. Throughout the book we're reminded that this is a story, and that the narrator is altering...

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