The “what is” and “why” parts of the first sentence of May 2020 Prescribed Title #1 is focused on observation and explanation. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood addresses these two questions. Her novel looks at a number of issues including the following:

  • The mistreatment of women
  • How authoritarian governments come to power and maintain their position
  • How language can be used to manipulate
  • How authoritarian governments turn citizens and groups of citizens against each other
  • The use of religion to manipulate and control a population
  • Problems that result from complacency
  • The dangers of extreme liberal or conservative views

Atwood’s novel answers the “what is” and “why” questions of the first sentence of May 2020 Prescribed Title #1. It does not, however, explicitly offer any solutions (i.e. the “what could be” and “why not” in the second sentences of the Prescribed Title. The novel does do this implicitly though. The Handmaid’s Tale shows readers how brutal authoritarian societies are created and maintained and indirectly shows what needs to happen to oppose them.



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