Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale recently topped Amazon's bestseller list, over thirty years after its original publication in 1985. The book has also been included on the American Library Association's lists of frequently banned and challenged books numerous times over the past two decades. For literature instructors interested in teaching with this influential book, Suzanne Lider of ReadWriteThink offers a lesson plan designed to facilitate student analysis of the role of language in the novel and in contemporary society. As Lider explains, language is central to Atwood's novel. Throughout the book, "the narrator, Offred, regularly interrupts the narrative flow of the text to contemplate the meaning of certain words and phrases." Designed for high school students, this lesson encourages students to examine neologisms (e.g. "unwomen") and Biblical language in The Handmaid's Tale and evaluate the role this language plays in the text. While designed explicitly for high school students, this lesson plan may also spark good discussion questions for book clubs and readers of all ages.
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