The Handmaids Tale: How To Use Shallow Focus
The Handmaid’s Tale is a 1985 dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian, Christian theonomy that has overthrown the United States government, the novel explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain individualism and independence. The novel’s title echoes the component parts of Geoffrey Chaucer‘s The Canterbury Tales, which comprises a series of connected stories (“The Merchant’s Tale”, “The Parson’s Tale”, etc.).
The Handmaid’s Tales is structured into two parts, night and other various events. This novel can be interpreted as a double narrative, Offred’s tale, and the Handmaid’s tales. The night sections are solely about Offred, and the other sections (shopping, waiting room, household etc.) are the stories that describe the possible life of every Handmaid.
The Handmaid’s Tale won the 1985 Governor General’s Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987; it was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. The book has been adapted into a film (1990), an opera (2000), a TV series (2017), and other media.