Choose ONE of the following prompts and write a well-developed essay answering it. Regardless of which
prompt you choose to answer, you must use Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale AND another relevant
story that we have read and discussed in Weeks 1 and 3. These prompts are rather broad and allow you to create
a specific angle with which you will answer them.
1. Language plays an important part in the ways in which a story is told, the ways in which we shape our
perceptions, and how we choose to define and see the world. We see examples of this in The
Handmaid’s Tale and other stories that we have read so far. Use the novel and one other story and
discuss the ways in language is used to shape perceptions.
2. Discuss the ways in which female characters are depicted in fiction: in what ways do they reinforce
conventional gender stereotypes? For what purposes? In what ways do they subvert them? For what
reasons? Use the novel and one other story to discuss this.
3. In what ways does fiction critique an established hegemonic (dominant) order such as patriarchy? Or
capitalism? Or fundamentalism? Use the novel and one other story and discuss the ways in which a
traditional way of looking at society or some aspect of an established order is critiqued.
Things to Remember:
1. Since you will be quoting and referring to examples from The Handmaid’s Tale and one of the stories
that we have read in Weeks 1 and 3, you need to cite your examples in correct MLA format. Whether
you quote or summarize your examples, you always need to follow them with parenthetical citations.
The general format is (Author’s last name Page #) (Atwood 32). However, since some of the work you
read is in an online format, you would use the following format: (Author’s last name, Par. #). For
example, (Chopin, par. 3). (The par. is an abbreviation of paragraph.)
2. Do NOT quote entire paragraphs. You may quote specific lines from the works, but if you want to use
the example of a larger section of the work, you must summarize it in your own words, or choose
specific lines from it to quote. In any case, whether you quote or summarize, you must always cite your
examples in MLA format in parentheses in your essay.
3. Every time you provide an example you need to explain it and how it answers your thesis in your own
4. IMPORTANT: Please do NOT do any external research for this essay. This essay should demonstrate
your understanding of what you have read. So use only your understanding of the novel and the story
you’ve chosen from the ones we’ve read in Weeks 1 and 3, the notes you take, and the introductory
documents I have provided.
Writing the Essay:
1. Do NOT use the 1st person in your essay—this includes words such as I, me, my, in my opinion, I think,
etc., and personal experiences.
2. As with any essay, you need to have an introduction, body paragraphs that develop your thesis, and an
3. Identify which prompt you choose and give your essay a specific and clear title.
4. In your introduction you need to state the angle that you choose for your answer as your thesis. Your
thesis can be more than one sentence, and your thesis should name the ways in which The Handmaid’s
Tale and the other story you choose answer the prompt. Your thesis should come at the end of your
5. In the body paragraphs of your essay develop your thesis and illustrate each aspect of your thesis using
examples from both works. You may quote specific lines from the works and then you must discuss the
examples and how they answer the prompt in your own words.
6. Remember to always cite your examples in parentheses as soon as you give them. Use correct MLA
format. For a refresher, you may check out Purdue OWL online for MLA citation format.
7. Your essay needs to have an appropriate conclusion.