Lesson 1 (from Chapter 1)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a novel with richly-drawn characters; though it also examines a society first-hand, it does so through the actions and beliefs of its heroine. Examine characterization through a series of activities with your class.
Class discussion: How can writers create characters? What are the means through which we understand characters? Is a character created through dialogue? Action? Narration? How is fictional characterization different in writing than in other mediums? Are Atwood’s characters believable? If so, why? If not, why not?
Activity: In small groups, students should select one character from another work, perhaps one studied in class, who resembles Offred, and then highlight the ways in which these characters are similar or different.
Assignment: Write a brief description of a character of your own making, that shares some of Offred’s characteristics, yet in other ways defies them. Does this...
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