Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Natalie Schroeder

Relational Format



This thesis explores the relationship of humanity and literature in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake. Through personal narration, Offred tells the story of being a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian government in which language is forbidden. She struggles to remain human in a world that treats her as a reproductive machine. Offred’s experiences lead her to forbidden games with the Commander, an affair with the Commander’s guardian, and escape because of love and trust in a world void of emotion. In Oryx and Crake. Jimmy/Snowman thinks he is the last genuine human being left on the planet. He guards a genetically engineered people group called the Crakers. Jimmy/Snowman’s past with his best friend Crake and his lover Oryx provides the background for a story of loneliness and redemption as Jimmy seeks the answer to questions of tme humanity. Jimmy’s genuine humanity compares with the “humanity” of the Crakers, as Offred’s humanity frustrates the objective goals of the mechanical Republic of Gilead. The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake align with Atwood’s larger thematic goals of promoting the protection of human rights and the environment. As Atwood makes her poignant stance, she also shows that literature is a powerful tool of humanity and that humanity flourishes through literature.

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