The Handmaid’s Tale
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. 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?
2. Discuss the significance of setting in The Handmaid’s Tale. Why does Atwood choose to set the novel where she does?
3. How does Gilead create and use a new vocabulary to buttress its totalitarian order?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Discuss the role of the Aunts and of Serena Joy in the novel. How do they relate to other women, and how does this make them fit into the hierarchy of Gilead?
2. Is the Commander a sympathetic character, a monster, or both?
3. Is Atwood’s novel ultimately a feminist work of literature, or does it offer a critique of feminism?
4. What role does Moira play in the novel? How does her significance change as the story progresses?
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