The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood that was first published in 1985. Atwood envisions a totalitarian and theocratic state where women’s roles are constrained and violent oppression keeps the order in place. A sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, The Testaments, was published in 2019. Explore a character analysis of the narrator Offred, plot summary, and important quotes.
Read our full plot summary and analysis of The Handmaid's Tale, chapter by chapter breakdowns, and more.
See a complete list of the characters in The Handmaid’s Tale and in-depth analyses of Offred, The Commander, Serena Joy, Moira, Luke, and Aunt Lydia.
Here's where you'll find analysis of the literary devices in The Handmaid's Tale, from the major themes to motifs, symbols, and more.
Questions & Answers
Explore our selection of frequently asked questions about Pride and Prejudice and find the answers you need.
- What is a Handmaid?
- Why does the Commander want to see Offred alone?
- Why does Offred agree to have sex with Nick?
- What happened to Offred’s daughter?
- Who are the Eyes?
- How did Offred become a handmaid?
- What does Offred’s name mean?
- Why are women forbidden to read or write?
- What is the significance of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in The Handmaid’s Tale?
- What is significant about the words that Offred plays in Scrabble with the Commander?
- What is the purpose of the Japanese tourists Offred and Ofglen meet while shopping?
- What is the significance of Offred’s tattoo?
- Why doesn’t Offred reveal her name when she records her story?
- What was Ofglen’s role in Mayday?
- What is the function of the chapter titled “Historical Notes”?
Find the quotes you need to support your essay, or refresh your memory of The Handmaid's Tale by reading these key quotes.
- Gilead (formerly Cambridge, Massachusetts)
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