So much to read, so little time? This brief overview of The Handmaid's Tale tells you what you need to know-before or after you read Margaret Atwood's book. This short summary and analysis of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood includes: Historical context, part-by-part summaries, analysis of the main characters, themes and symbols, important quotes, fascinating trivia, a glossary of terms, and supporting material to enhance your understanding of the original work. About Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale: Margaret Atwood's dystopian literary masterpiece tells the story of Offred, a Handmaid living in the near future in what was once the United States. A new theocratic regime called the Republic of Gilead has come to power and changed life as she knew it. Once Offred had a her own name and a loving family-a husband and daughter-both of which were taken from her; now she belongs to the Commander and his hostile wife, and her only value lies in her ability to bear a child for them. She used to read books and learn; now such things are forbidden to all women. Gripping, disturbing, and so relevant today, The Handmaid's Tale is a brilliant novel and a chilling warning about what can happen when extreme ideas are taken to their logical conclusions.