Autumn iRevise Online Tutorial Series 31st of August to 5th of December

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

Context 5

Summary 6

Analysis 9

Chapters 1-6 9

Chapters 7-9 11

Chapters 10-12 12

Chapters 13-15 13

Chapters 16-21 14

Chapters 22-25 15

Chapters 26-28 16

Chapters 29-32 16

Chapters 33-36 17

Chapters 37-40 18

Chapters 41-44 19

Chapters 45-46 and Historical Notes 20

Characters 21

Offred 21

The Commander 22

Serena Joy 23

Moira 23

Aunt Lydia 24

Nick 24

Ofglen 24

Cora 25

Janine 25

Luke 25

Offred’s mother 25

Aunt Elizabeth 25

Rita 25

Professor Pieixoto 25

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols 26

Themes 26

Women’s Bodies as Political Instruments 26

Language as a Tool of Power 26

The Causes of Complacency 26

Motifs 27

Rape and Sexual Violence 27

Religious Terms Used for Political Purposes 27

Similarities between Reactionary and Feminist Ideologies 27

Symbols 28

Cambridge, Massachusetts 28

Harvard University 28

The Handmaids’ Red Habits 28

A Palimpsest 28

The Eyes 29

Important Quotations Explained 30

1. 30

2. 30

3. 30

4. 31

5. 31

Sample Answers 32

How does The Handmaid’s Tale depict the intersection between politics and sexual reproduction? How is Gilead’s political order defined by this intersection, and how does it affect the lives of women? 32

Discuss the significance of setting in The Handmaid’s Tale. Why does Atwood choose to set the novel where she does? 33

How does Gilead create and use a new vocabulary to buttress its totalitarian order? 34

The presentation of women in The Handmaid’s Tale 35

Discourse and Oppression in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. 37

Gilead Discourse 37

Offred in Gilead Discourse 38

The Women of Gilead 41

Re-identification 44

Truth Redefined 45

Why Gilead? 46

Conclusion 50

Context

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 18, 1939. She published her first book of poetry in 1961 while attending the University of Toronto. She later received degrees from both Radcliffe College and Harvard University, and pursued a career in teaching at the university level. Her first novel, The Edible Woman, was published i...

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