The Handmaid's Tale Essay Examples and Topics

by Margaret Atwood

Essay Examples
Essay Topics
Brief overview

Best topics on The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale essay topics can range from Margaret Atwood’s futuristic writing to the dystopian, famous series based on the novel. You could write about the Second American Civil War ... or tackle the matter of slavery in the book. There are many ways to look at this book and so many options for writing on it. If you are a student tasked with writing a The Handmaid’s Tale essay, it’s no wonder you’re struggling with this. Let’s help you a bit with this. The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian, futuristic novel by Margaret Atwood, published in 1985 and set in New England. It’s set in a near-future, patriarchal, totalitarian state called the Republic of Gilead, which has overthrown the government of the US. The narrator and central character in this book is Offred, one of the women forcibly assigned to make children with the ruling class of men in Gilead, or the handmaids. In other words, the novel explores the theme of subjugated women, slavery, and a patriarchal society. It speaks of suppression of the female reproductive rights, loss of female individuality, and the courage of women trying to resist this regime. The novel paints a colorful, yet painful picture. It shows what women struggle with, but also presents them as courageous people fighting for their rights and independence. Very often, students describe the component parts of The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, where the central character also tells her story. The book won several awards and was nominated for even more. It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Governor General’s Award, and was nominated for the Booker Prize, the Prometheus Award, and the Nebula Award. In 1990, it was adapted into a film and in 2017, into television series. There has even been a sequel novel called The Testaments, published in 2019. All this opens up many options for writing about the novel. You could compare it with other novels, including the sequel, or speak solely about The Handmaid’s Tale. You could speak of slavery, of bravery, or the symbolism used in the novel. In the novel the author offers a satirical view on political, social, and religious trends that the US had in the 1980s, which is yet another great topic to tackle. As a matter of fact, Atwood argues that every one of the scenarios in The Handmaid’s Tale has occurred in real life, which makes this novel’s message even more powerful. If you are up to a lot of research, you could find instances where these things happened, and compare them to the story of Atwood. These are just a few examples of what your new essay can talk about. Books that are as fierce as this one are always the hardest to review. To help you even further, we offer you access to some free, high-quality essays on the topic. While you cannot use these as your own, we hope that the samples will help you write your own piece. They will show you different ways to approach the topic, as well as help you learn new things about The Handmaid’s Tale. You can read about the style of Atwood in the novel, how she portrayed the abuse of women, as well as about women in society and the external conflict through the book.

Margaret Atwood




Dystopian novel, Speculative fiction, Tragedy

Publication date



The drama is science fiction, set in a dystopian future where a totalitarian regime has overthrown the US government and created the Republic of Gilead.

Major Characters

Offred, The Commander, Serena Joy, Ofglen, Nick, Moira, Luke, Professor Pieixoto, Aunt Lydia, Cora, Rita

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