The Handmaid’s Tale Summary

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Handmaid's Tale


The Handmaid's Tale Plot Diagram

Example



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Activity Overview


A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.


Plot Diagram
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Example The Handmaid’s Tale Plot Diagram

Exposition

In the Republic of Gilead, Offred, a young Handmaid, has just started her newest post at the Commander’s house. As a Handmaid, it is her duty to bear the Commander and his wife a child. Offred is unhappy, remembering tidbits of her life before this one, with her husband Luke and their daughter. The Handmaids are forced into this life, and have been trained at the Red Center by the Aunts to be pious and to appreciate their new status.


Conflict

Offred’s primary conflict throughout the novel is that she has a two-year time period in which to bear the Commander a child. However, the Commander also wishes to get to know Offred better, and begins inviting her to his study late at night without his wife, Serena Joy. Offred and the Commander’s Guardian, Nick, have begun to notice each other as well.


Rising Action

Offred’s daily shopping partner, Ofglen, begins to reveal that she may be a part of an underground resistance movement called Mayday. The Commander plays Scrabble with Offred and begins to bring her gifts, such as women’s magazines which are no longer in print. Eventually, he brings her to a club where men and hired women mingle. Serena Joy desperately wants a child and knows her husband is probably infertile; she develops a scheme for Offred to sleep with Nick.


Climax

After a Women’s Salvaging, or public hanging, and a Particicution (where the Handmaids beat a man to death as punishment for the crime of rape), Ofglen reveals that the man was actually a political operative. Later, Ofglen has been replaced by another Handmaid - now “Ofglen.” Offred tests her by mentioning “Mayday”, and discovers that she’s made a terrible mistake when the new Ofglen warns her to forget about those old “echoes.”


Falling Action

Serena Joy finds out about Offred’s outing to the club, and confronts both Offred and the Commander. Soon afterwards, an Eye van arrives to take Offred away. Nick comes up to tell her that they are really Mayday operatives and to trust him, so Offred does. As she is taken from the home, the Commander believes that she will betray him.


Resolution

The final part of the novel is called “Historical Notes”, and is purportedly a transcript from a symposium looking at the Gileadean era from the year 2195. The speaker gives the history of “The Handmaid’s Tale” transcript, and their attempts to establish its origins and the identity of the Handmaid. The tale was told on a series of cassette tapes, and it was recovered in Bangor, Maine, a known stop of The Underground Femaleroad. It seems that the world has managed to balance itself out population-wise again, and the symposium is designed to understand the foreign and archaic ways of the Gilead nation.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Handmaid’s Tale.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.

Plot Diagram Template 16x9

Template


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Rubric

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