Things you should know about The Handmaid’s Tale

You should be making time these holidays to revise our work on The Handmaid’s Tale; here are a few things to review:

Form: You should know that the book is a work of prose, a satire, and that it is a dystopian novel. You should know what satire is used, the main features of a dystopian novel, and how they feature in The Handmaid’s Tale. These may seem like simple points but you must be sure that you understand these basic ideas about form and their relationship to the meaning of the text.

Structure: This book has an unusual style. You will need to identify features, such as the use of flashbacks, the first-person narrative voice and the way the book is divided into sections/chapters. It is important to understand why the author uses these features.

Language: The simple use of certain words indicates things about the state of Gilead or about a character. For example, Offred’s use of language may be different depending on context and it tells us something about how she thinks and feels. Language can create mood and tone, and control the reader’s responses. You need to identify and consider these elements of language use.

How language shapes meaning: It is important to understand that the writer’s use of form, structure and language all contribute to how meaning is created and expressed. Understanding how all these factors combine to create an overall tone and style.


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