Margaret Atwood’s female dystopian visions: A comparative analysis of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and its sequel The Testaments (2019).
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This thesis analyses two of Margaret Atwood’s female-centred dystopian novels, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and The Testaments (2019), sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, and compares the novels to each other. The comparison is based on grounds of religion, intergenerational dynamics, the role of epigraphs, and generic and sub-generic positioning. Religion has proven to be important to both books, though in different ways. Likewise, intergenerational dynamics play different roles in both novels, which can be related back to the diverging sub-generic positioning of the novels. Furthermore, epigraphs take one a prominent and predictive role in both. Lastly, questions of generic and sub-generic positioning are posed to determine a difference in genre or sub-genre between the works. By combining these four elements, this thesis aims to provide an insight into how Margaret Atwood’s female-centred dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale has changed into that of The Testaments over the past thirty-five years. This leads to the dominant conclusion that The Testaments is more of a young adult female-centred dystopia than its predecessor The Handmaid’s Tale.