5 things you should know about The Handmaid’s Tale before watching it

This Wednesday at 7 p.m., University Park students will have the opportunity to attend an exclusive pre-screening of The Handmaid’s Tale — an upcoming dystopian television show only available on Hulu. While The Handmaid’s Tale was originally published as a novel in 1985, many college students are just hearing about it now (which probably says something not-so-great about our television to book ratio). For those collegiettes who have yet to read The Handmaid’s Tale, here are 5 things you should know before attending the pre-screening in 104 Keller Auditorium:


1. The story takes place in a near-future dystopian New England

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in Republic of Gilead, which is run by a military dictatorship that has taken over the United States in the midst of a civil war. Under this regime, a Christian fundamentalist movement called the "Sons of Jacob" has taken away all women’s rights in the name of repopulation and revolution.


2. The Handmaids are a special class of women who serve reproductive purposes

The Handmaids are required to have sex with the man who owns them to help repopulate Gilead. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the world has been plagued by declining birthrates as a result of global pollution and sexually transmitted diseases.


3. The Handmaids’ names stand for whichever man “owns” them

“Offred,” the protagonist of the series, is literally named “Of-Fred” for the man who owns her. This also goes for the other handmaids, like “Ofglen,” who is named for her master Glen.


4, The women had other lives before they were Handmaids

Before the revolution, women were living relatively normal lives. This sometimes results in flashbacks throughout their lives as handmaids. Additionally, not all women are handmaids — only those who are fertile.


5. The color red throughout the story is symbolic

The handmaids wear long red dresses and white bonnets that cover their hair. The presence of red is powerful throughout the story, and symbolizes both passion and fertility.


Don’t forget to come to Her Campus Penn State and Hulu’s special presentation of The Handmaid’s tale tonight!

Cover credit: 1