Life in America: The Reagan Years, A Webography
Handmaid's Tale, by Erin Mccuire

Web Resources about The Handmaid's Tale

Law and Politics Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

Score: 18

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.

Evaluation: 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!

Spark Notes: The Handmaid’s Tale

Score: 15

Summary: The SparkNotes website provides readers, especially students, with a comprehensive overview of several aspects of The Handmaid’s Tale and 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.

Evaluation: 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 novel.

The Handmaid’s Tale” at Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Score: 15

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.

“Language and Power in The Handmaid’s Tale

Score: 15

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.

Study Guide to Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale

Score: 15

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.

Evaluation: 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.

“Literature Annotations: The Handmaid’s Tale

Score: 15

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.

Evaluation: 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.

“Margaret Atwood and the End of Humanity”

Score: 15

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 her writing.

Resources for The Handmaid’s Tale

Score: 15

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.

New York Times Journalist Mary McCarthy on The Handmaid’s Tale

Score: 14

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.

The Greatest Works of All Time: The Handmaid’s Tale

Score: 12

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.

Content created by Megan Mooney.