Department or Program



This project explores the relationships between memory, intimacy, and witnessing trauma in the world of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Chapter One looks into Atwood’s novel itself, tracing Gilead’s abuse of memory, both individual and collective. I argue that Offred turns to intimate memories and new intimate encounters to hold onto her memories, and thus to her sense of self. In Chapter Two, I examine Hulu’s series adaptation of Atwood’s story and the way the show develops its titular character beyond the novel by turning her tale into a revenge tragedy. I contend that June’s Gileadean life warped her perspective of power, which causes her to rely on an addiction to revenge in order to express and validate her trauma. Chapter Three then tackles how the woman Offred/June became in Gilead impacted her children in Atwood’s sequel novel, The Testaments. The subconscious behaviors and desires exhibited by June’s daughters suggest that the longing and hopelessness June endured were passed down to her children. However, for the very first time in The Handmaid’s Tale universe, The Testaments also illustrates how witnessing for one another enables Agnes and Nicole to begin processing their trauma. Ultimately, these messages urge audiences to consider the value of their own memories and relationships in order to recognize how their traumatic experiences will shape the next generation.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Adkison, Katie

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.