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The Handmaid's Tale Critical Essay

This Study Guide consists of approximately 54 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Handmaid's Tale.
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Critical Overview

Although The Handmaid's Tale achieved great popular success when it was published-weeks on the bestseller lists, its adaptation as a major motion picture-its reception by critics has been wildly uneven. Critics generally have been positive about the book, but for many different reasons.

These reasons have been so diverse that it seems at times that reviewers were reviewing different books. Such wide disagreement is testimony to Atwood's strength as a novelist: it shows that no reviewer could dismiss The Handmaid's Tale lightly, that they gave the book, its subject matter, and its implications serious attention. It takes a novel with few obvious flaws and so much social relevance to bring out so many different approaches.

In general, reviewers divided their attentions toward either the book's political success or its success as a piece of literature, although there is vast disagreement about whether it works in either of these...

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This section contains 858 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Handmaid's Tale Study Guide
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The Handmaid's Tale from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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