The Handmaids Tale

Your assignment is to write a five-page historical, comparative analysis of The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and The Testaments (2019) by Margaret Atwood. Use specific examples from the novels to support your analysis and a minimum of eight sources other than the texts themselves. Use one of the two questions of Historical Criticism listed below to guide your research and analysis.

Historical critics try to answer questions such as these:

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1.    What worldview was typical of the author’s time? What aspects of this worldview seem prevalent in this work? Does the author seem to accept or rebel against this worldview?   
2.    What events, issues, concerns of the time are manifested in the work? What does the work say about life at the time?

As with other interpretive strategies we’ve studied, Historical Criticism provides a framework for building context to help you understand and interpret a work of literature. Here you use what you learn about the time the work was written to justify your critique.
Process
While there are different strategies for approaching this work, you might consider following these steps.
1.    Re-read and/or review margin notes in the novels.
2.    Construct a Foundation Summary of the novels using the elements of summary listed below (if you have not done so already).
a.    Who is the story about?
b.    What is the story about?
c.    When does the story take place?
d.    Where does the story take place?
e.    Why did the author write the story? (In other words, what does the author intend to communicate to the reader?)
f.    How does the story take place? (In other words, who is telling the story or from what point of view is it being told?)
3.    Convert your “why” for each novel into a critique by framing it in terms of a social, moral, or political issue. Revise your critiques into a single critique that makes a statement about a shared meaning in both works (which you will then justify through your historical analysis).
4.    Choose one of the Historical Criticism questions to guide your analysis and research.
5.    Conduct an initial round of exploratory research to develop a better understanding of time in which each work was written and the effectiveness of the research tools you employed. If your research tools are not producing enough credible results, consider adding additional research tools and consulting with a librarian (try the 24/7 chat on the college library homepage) or myself. Use the social, moral, or political issue that is the focus of your critique to narrow the scope of your research.
6.    Conduct another round of research until you have more than the minimum number of credible sources required for the assignment.
7.    Review your sources for credibility and discard any that may not be sufficiently credible or that are noticeably less credible than your other sources. Create a works cited page for the remaining sources. (You can always delete any you don’t end up using.) This will help you create accurate in-text citations as you draft your paper.
8.    Ask yourself “Why do I think so?” about your critique and use several reasons generated in this way to organize your support/ body paragraphs in the development of your paper.
9.    Refine your research and select several examples from each time period that best justify each reason and your critique — that are most relevant to understanding your interpretation. Conduct additional research as needed.
10.    Select relevant, specific examples from each novel to illustrate the support you have already gathered and help develop your reasons.
11.    Write a first draft that is at least 2 – 3 pages in length and incorporates at least four sources. Submit this to the draft workshop for review. Review the work of others.
12.    Write a final draft of at least five pages using the feedback you receive and any additional research you conduct (if any). This draft should incorporate at least eight sources and parenthetical citations as needed. Include your works cited page. Submit this to the final draft workshop. Review the work of others.
13.    Conduct a final round of editing and revising based on the feedback you receive and using any additional research you conduct (if any). Submit this revision for a grade.

For more information on The Handmaids Tale read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid%27s_Tale

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