Summary: This site, which is a part of the Law and
Politics Book Review section of the American Political Science Association,
provides a summary of the main characters and a plot summary of The Handmaid’s Tale. Amongst details of
the novel, social issues of the time period are also discussed. The site
suggests a relationship between the issues Atwood presents in The Handmaid’s Tale, and in many of her
other works, and the issues present in society. The ideas of political power,
ideological structures, and justice that are present throughout Atwood’s novels
are incorporated by the site author into an intricate and comprehensive web
that is mean to comment on the overall oppression of women in society.
As a resource, this site is associated with a reputable organization and an
author who has established credibility through Pittsburg State University,
which makes the site a current and reliable resource for readers of The Handmaid’s Tale. Establishing the
storyline along with thematic and societal connections makes this a primary
source for students to consult when critically analyzing the novel after
reading. Additional information can be obtained through the citations and
references listed on the website. Also, complete book and author information is
given. A great primary resource for students!
Summary: The SparkNotes website provides readers,
especially students, with a comprehensive overview of several aspects of The Handmaid’s Taleand walks the reader
through each aspect of the novel, only including the important facts. There are
detailed summaries of the main characters, themes, motifs, symbols, and plot of
the novel. Also included are detailed summaries of individual chapters within
the novel. The authors of the site provide detailed summary information on all
aspects of the novel without bias or omitting any information to the reader.
This site is mainly used to supplement, not replace, the reading of The Handmaid’s Tale.
This site is a fully comprehensive site that includes all aspects that a reader
would wish to know about the novel and serves as an aid to readers who may be
confused during their reading of The
Handmaid’s Tale. SparkNotes can be served as a useful tool to students
reading the novel and understanding underlying themes, which explains why it
was included in a webography. The websites central weakness is the lack of a
named author with credentials on the webpage where contact information is
given. SparkNotes is a fantastic site for quick summary information of the
Summary: The Wikipedia website offers its readers a
brief plot and character overview of The
Handmaid’s Tale, along with several conceptual explanations. This site
offers a detailed explanation of the social groups that are depicted throughout
the novel, the main characters and also the major themes of the novel.
Wikipedia also provides background information to the time period the novel was
written and relates the themes and events of the novel to the events and
movements that were taking place in society during that time. Also, detailed information
is given about awards the novel has received, the film that was created based
on the novel, and several details regarding the publication and author.
Evaluation: This website contributes to the overall
understanding of the novel and focuses on the major themes and concepts verses
a detailed summary of the novel. The Wikipedia site is most useful to readers
who are looking for very general information about the novel along with
publication information. Weaknesses of the site include the absence of a
credible author and the freedom for individuals to alter the content. Despite
these weaknesses, Wikipedia is a great resource for general knowledge and
information of the novel that needs to be obtained quickly.
Summary: The author of this site is an English
professor and has provided a complete lesson plan for other teachers that are
teaching The Handmaid’s Tale and
focusing on the influences of language and power that are evident in the novel.
The site offers several resources that are useful to students and teachers about
the theme of language and the power language in society. Links to other
resources and tools, such as handouts, notes, activities, and Venn Diagrams are
provided for a better understanding of the language used in the novel in order
for a teacher to successfully teach his or her students.
Evaluation: Even though this site is primarily for
teachers, it provides clear insight to the use of language and power in The Handmaid’s Tale. A student would
benefit from the several handouts, notes, and links that are distributed
throughout the site. The site has been approved by the National Council of
Teachers of English and is a credible resource for teachers and also students. The
only weakness discovered within the website is that the site is lacking a date of
publication. Regardless of the sites original purpose for teachers, other
readers may find this site useful, specifically if inquiring about the power of
language within the novel. This alternative interpretation of the novel from a
teacher’s perspective is included because it gives an additional interpretation
to a key theme in the novel.
Summary: This web page is in association with
Washington State University and provides its readers with an extensive study
guide to supplement the reading of The Handmaid’s
Tale. Chapter by chapter comprehension questions are proposed that focus
not only on chapter events but some of the overall themes of feminism,
dystopia, and fundamentalism. There is exhaustive information given about
American social and political movements in the 1980’s, and when read before the
novel, will give a more comprehensive understanding. The importance of the
historical notes to the novel is also meticulously explained and related to the
events of the 1980’s.
Although this site lacks a recent update, and is located within a professor’s
file, the supplemental information given on the time period and the historical
notes makes this an excellent resource for students. Used for his students,
Professor Paul Brians has created excellent discussion and comprehension
questions to go along with the reading of The
Handmaid’s Tale. The chapter questions support critical thinking and
analysis of the novel and cause its readers to relate the novel to society and
movements of the time period. An excellent resource for students reading the
novel but also for teachers searching for comprehension questions.
Summary: New York University’s Literature, Arts, and
Medicine database has provided a web page devoted to a brief annotation of The Handmaid’s Tale. This page includes
a brief overview of the plot and of the main characters, along with additional commentary.
The commentary was written by the author of the page that includes criticism of
the novel along with the major themes and concepts presented. Also, publication
information, genre, book length, and keywords are provided to the reader. This
web page is one of several book annotations that are located within New York
University’s literature database.
The credibility of this site and association to New York University allows it
to be a useful resource to students or readers who are inquiring quick
information about The Handmaid’s Tale.
The page provides a brief overview, which is most likely intended to provide
information about the novel prior to reading. The information is clear and
factual, yet the site has not been recently updated and lacks the authors’
credentials, which lowers its overall score. This resource gives its readers
quick, basic knowledge of the novel from a reliable source and makes it a
useful resource to students.
Summary: The author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, is the primary focus on this
web page and provides information from an interview with the author and
emphasizes how her views and beliefs about society impact her writing. The site
provides its readers with many of Atwood’s overarching themes in many of her
novels, which could be viewed pessimistically but goes on to provide interview
information where Atwood explains her reasons for writing such thematic novels.
Atwood’s interpretation of future societies is indicative of much of her
writing. This resource aims to bring its readers into the mindset of Margaret
Atwood as an author.
Evaluation: Although exceptionally different from the
other sources present, this site primarily looks into the beliefs and ideas of
Margaret Atwood, which is of great importance when analyzing The Handmaid’s Tale. Novels are written
based on the ideas of the author; therefore, understanding Atwood’s beliefs
about society and the end of humanity may help a reader understand her novels.
This site does provide credible information to its readers, yet the site lacks
a few minor details, such as full author contact information, which lowers its
score. As a primary interview with Atwood, this site is an excellent resource
to obtain background information about the author that has influenced much of
Summary: On this particular site, there are several
resources available to supplement, not replace, the reading of The Handmaid’s Tale for a overall better
understanding of the novel. Such resources include: several articles relating
to the novel, book reviews, a synopses, essays, excerpts, study guides, and
video interviews of the author, which provides further detailed information to
the reader. The various themes and concepts, such as feminism, postmodernism,
dystopia, and mysticism, are evaluated within the essays. This provides the
reader with a variety of different interpretations of key the themes within the
novel. Also, the site provides links to other reputable sites relating to The Handmaid’s Tale.
Evaluation: While this site provides only a basic
summary of the novel and plot, it provides an extensive amount of related
information about the novel and related themes and interpretations. With
several additional reputable links provided, this site is of overall great
quality and provides credible information on a variety of topics relating to
the novel. The author provided a variety of sources that allows the site to be
useful to its readers for a multiple of reasons. The site received a lower
score due to the lack of a more recent date that the site was last updated.
Summary: The web article on the New York Times
website about The Handmaid’s Tale
offers a realistic interpretation of the novel. The author of this page
illustrates how movements of the 1980’s were the basis of Atwood’s novel. Some
of these aspects include: religious fundamentalism, the different sectors of
feminism, and how the discovery of AIDS and possible nuclear warfare can all be
somehow indirectly linked to the novel. The web page focuses on the connection and
synthesis between social and political events that occurred during the time period,
in which the novel was written, and how they are incorporated into events,
characters, and conflicts in the novel. This site is mainly used as a
comparison between the novel and the movements that were indicative of American
society in the 1980’s.
Evaluation: This webpage offers its readers a very
comprehensive outlook on the impact of social and political events of the
1980’s had on Atwood’s novel. This site is excellent for readers who are
looking to make connections between themes present in the novel and the
relationship to the time period. Specific examples and connections between the
novel and events were given and explained throughout the webpage. Despite
possessing quality synthesis, this site obtained a lower score because the date
of publication is not recent and the author did not fully cite each resource
that was used. Overall, this is a quality source used to further understand the
concepts of the novel relating to American society.
Summary: The Editor Eric website presents a
counterargument to Margaret Atwood’s The
Handmaid’s Tale and explains many aspects and ideas of the novel that are
potentially “disappointing” as a reader. Particularly, the website focuses on
the lack of details that are given in regard to the rise of the Republic of
Gilead and later on the demise of the Gilead society. Since little information
is given about the politics within the novel, the website speculates that Atwood
may have been commenting on the social position of women during that time
rather than the state of the government and government influence. The treatment
of Offred and the Republic of Gilead’s treatment of women was most likely meant
to provoke repulsion and victimization to those women reading the novel.
Evaluation: This site offers a very different
perspective on then overall themes of The
Handmaid’s Tale and questions the motives behind the meaning of Atwood’s
writing and why certain aspects of the plot were left out, whereas others were
emphasized. The weakness behind this site includes a lack of the date of
publication and the domain and organization sponsoring it were located under a
students’ folder, which caused the site to have a lower rating. Yet because
this site offers an different interpretation to Atwood’s novel and overall
concepts, it is best included to represent a wide range of ideas and arguments
associated with The Handmaids Tale.