Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Francesca Sawaya

Committee Members

Suzanne Raitt

Hannah Rosen

Keith Johnson


This thesis examines Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale within its contemporary context of 1980s backlash and analyzes one of its central messages: that of the power and potential of women’s solidarity. This original message is then compared to the messages communicated by the 2017 Hulu adaptation of the novel, focusing on differences in depictions of backlash and women’s solidarity and concluding with an analysis of how these differences may affect the important original underlying theme: the strength found in women’s solidarity. Through analysis of genuine and forced solidarity and how these main types of solidarity intersect in relationships between Offred and other women in the novel, it becomes clear that women have the greatest impact on each other’s success or failure in this backlash environment. Women’s solidarity – whether it is genuine or forced – translates to power. With changes made in the 2017 Hulu adaptation, focus shifts away from the quiet power of women’s genuine solidarity to instead promoting male allies or active feminist resistance, departures from the text which limit the original novel’s powerful promotion of internalized resistance. But regardless of Margaret Atwood’s or the Hulu adaptation’s own explicit feminist identification or acceptance, the feminism inherent in The Handmaid’s Tale remains clear. Around the United States at women’s protests in the ’80s and 2018, the novel has become a rallying cry.

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Creative Commons License
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