Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

Karen Macfarlane (Mount Saint Vincent University)
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One of Margaret Atwood’s best known and most studied novels, The Handmaid's Tale is set in a dystopian near future, after the United States has been taken over by a group of fundamentalist Christian extremists. The government has been replaced by a theocracy and renamed “The Republic of Gilead” after “the mountain where Jacob promised to his father-in-law Laban that he would protect his two daughters” (Atwood, “Writing Utopia” rpt. Moving Targets Anansi Press 2004, 110). Atwood’s Gilead is a complex amalgam and distortion of late-twentieth century culture: the “moral majority” movement of the 1980s, declining birth rates, …

3901 words

Citation: Macfarlane, Karen. "The Handmaid's Tale". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 December 2006 [, accessed 28 September 2023.]

656 The Handmaid's Tale 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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