Listen&Learn: The Handmaid’s Tale

Jaksyn Peacock
Learn about the famous dystopian novel.

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • dystopian: describing a corrupt or oppressive society
  • fertile: capable of having children
  • protagonist: the main character of a story
  • adaptation: a retelling of a story in a different form
  • reproductive: relating to the concept of having children
  • sequel: a book that comes after another book

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. It was first published in 1985. The story is set in a country called Gilead, which was once the United States. Gilead is run by a government that forces fertile women, known as Handmaids, to have children for men. The protagonist, Offred, is one of these women. The Handmaid’s Tale got a TV adaptation in 2017, the same year that sales of the book rose by 200 percent. It has become an important in reproductive rights movements, especially in North America. In 2019, Atwood published a sequel called The Testaments.

Comprehension questions

See answers below

  1. The country that The Handmaid’s Tale is set in is
    a. Canada
    b. the United States
    c. Gilead
  2. In the story, the role of Handmaids is to
    a. clean and cook
    b. have children
    c. raise children
  3. The year that book sales rose by 200 percent was
    a. 1985
    b. 2017
    c. 2019

Discussion/essay questions

  1. What do you think the purpose of dystopian fiction is? 

Transcript

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. It was first published in 1985. The story is set in a fictional country called Gilead, which was once the United States. Gilead is run by a religious government that forces fertile women, known as Handmaids, to have children for powerful men. The protagonist, Offred, is one of these women. The Handmaid’s Tale got a TV adaptation in 2017, the same year that sales of the book rose by 200 percent. It has become an important symbol in reproductive rights movements, especially in North America. In 2019, Atwood published a sequel called The Testaments.

Answers to comprehension questions

1c 2b 3b

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub

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