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The Handmaids Tale


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


"The Handmaid's Tale" is a dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, set in a totalitarian society that was once part of the United States. This society, known as Gilead, arises in response to a plummeting birth rate and is characterized by its extreme oppression of women, who are stripped of their rights and freedoms.

Key Themes

  • Totalitarianism and Patriarchy: Gilead is governed by a strict set of laws that control every aspect of life, particularly the roles of women.
  • Resistance and Hope: Despite the oppressive regime, the protagonist and other characters find ways to resist and maintain hope for a better future.
  • Identity and Autonomy: The story explores the loss of personal identity and autonomy under a repressive regime, highlighting the importance of self and memory.

Plot Overview

The protagonist, Offred, is a Handmaid whose sole purpose is to conceive and bear a child for elite couples that are unable to conceive. The narrative follows her life in the Commander's household, her memories of the time before Gilead, and her attempts to survive and resist the oppressive system.


  • Offred: The protagonist, a Handmaid assigned to the Commander. Her real name is not revealed, symbolizing the loss of identity.
  • The Commander: A high-ranking official in Gilead who uses his position to form a complex relationship with Offred.
  • Serena Joy: The Commander's wife, who harbors her own bitterness and resentment towards Offred.


"The Handmaid's Tale" is a powerful exploration of the dangers of extremism and the loss of personal freedom. Atwood's novel is a cautionary tale about the potential for society to adopt oppressive practices in the face of crisis, highlighting the resilience of the human spirit in the darkest of times.