Dystopian Elements in The Handmaid's Tale

Dystopian Elements in The Handmaid's Tale
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Handmaids Tale Lesson Plans

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Lesson Plans by Kristy Littlehale

Margaret Atwood’s explosive dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, has seen a resurgence in popularity with the popular TV series released in 2017. Many have said that the series’ release is timely because of the upsurge of troubling rhetoric that mirrors many of the dangerous ideas presented in the novel, both in the political arena and online.




The Handmaid's Tale

Storyboard Text

  • PEOPLE RESTRICTED FROM INDEPENDENT THOUGHT / ACTION
  • Women were not allowed to own property or hold jobs in the early days of the regime. From there, they were segregated into different classes, and they were not allowed to move freely into other countries, many families were split up, and they were not allowed to shirk their duties. Everyone had to be careful of what they said, because they could be turned in for treason.
  • ELEMENTS OF CONFORMITY, OR EXTREME EQUALITY
  • GOVERNMENT IS OPPRESSIVE
  • The government restricts access to food, local areas, and travel with the use of food tokens, passcards, and checkpoints. The government requires Commanders' households with Handmaids complete The Ceremony each month.Black vans ride around and pick up people who are accused of treason. They hang the bodies on a Wall for public display.
  • GOVERNMENT PORTRAYS SOCIETY AS A UTOPIA
  • SETTING IS FUTURISTIC, OR IN A FICTIONAL UNIVERSE
  • The setting is not futuristic until the end of the novel; however, at the time of the writing of the novel, this does take place sometime in the future-- the 1990s. The Western Hemisphere has fundamentally changed; the United States of America no longer exists, replaced by the Republic of Gilead.
  • PROTAGONIST WISHES TO RESTORE PEOPLE TO A CONVENTIONAL LIFE
  • The Colonies
  • CANADA
  • THE REPUBLIC OF GILEAD
  • All classes of people are expected to wear the same clothing that corresponds to their class or duty. People were expected to greet each other with pious sayings, which assumed that everyone had converted to this particular sect of Christianity.
  • The Republic of Gilead does allow tourists to come and view the society as the example of the society that is doing things right. When the Japanese tourists ask Offred if she is happy, she is expected to say yes.
  • Offred holds out hope that her husband, Luke, is still alive and that together they will be able to save their daughter one day. She does make the tapes which later become the transcript "The Handmaid's Tale", possibly in hope that it can be used for the Resistance.
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