The Handmaid's Tale | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale | Infographic

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Check out this Infographic to learn more about Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Study visually with character maps, plot summaries, helpful context, and more.

The-Handmaids-Tale-Margaret-Atwood_UPDATECommander, Chapter 32 etter never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some.Sources: American Library Association, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Verge Copyright © 2016 Course Hero, Inc.Serena JoyCommanders bitter, cruel, and sad wifeMoiraOffreds rebellious friendOffredNarrator and Handmaid who struggles to keep her identityNickOffred’s confident, mysterious, and rebellious loverThe CommanderOffreds naïve, lonely, and hypocritical assigned sexual partnerThe Handmaids Taleby the NumbersNovels that inspired Atwood to write dystopian fiction (1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451)Year a film adaptation starring Natasha Richardson was released1990Year in which the novels epilogue is set21953EyesIn the patriarchal Republic of Gilead, women are assigned roles designed to subjugate them. Wives are at the top of the hierarchy, followed by young Daughters, Handmaids with the potential to bear children, servant Marthas, poor Econowives, watchdog Aunts, and sexualized Jezebels.Gender Rolesin GileadSYMBOLSThe eyes of Gilead's secret police symbolize paranoia and surveillance.RedFlowersFlowers symbolize what women lack: individual beauty and the ability to reproduce freely.WifeHandmaidsHandmaidsDaughtersDaughtersThe scarlet color marks handmaids for their sexual or childbearing roles.MARGARET ATWOODBORN 1939Born in Ottawa, Canada, Atwood is an award-winning novelist, poet, scriptand libretto writer, humanitarian, and environmentalist. While pursuing her doctorate at Harvard, Atwood—a prolific writer—never finished her dissertation, though she went on to collect some 20 honorary degrees, including one from Harvard in 2004.AuthorThemesMain CharactersOverviewThe Handmaids Tale imagines a futuristic dystopia in which births have declined, and women serve as handmaids whose purpose is to reproduce for the powerful and elite. Despite some severe limits to her freedom, Offred, the narrator, struggles to retain her identity through past memories.IdentityAll sense of individuality is stripped from inhabitants, who interact according tosocial roles.Gender RolesWomen are stripped of all rights and liberties, useful only for their physical abilities.Liberty & CaptivityBecause everyone lives according to restrictions, freedom is elusive.Margaret Atwood1985EnglishMargaret Atwood1985EnglishNovel AuthorYear PublishedOriginal LanguageDystopianThe HandmaidsTale

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