The Testaments: The Difference within the Gileadean World


  • Ela İpek Gündüz Gaziantep University



Margaret Atwood, gynesis, postmodern feminism, dystopia, misogyny


Margaret Atwood’s recent dystopian novel The Testaments (2019) revisits The Handmaid’s Tale by depicturing Gilead’s nightmarish world of the patriarchal order, which is established especially against women’s potency. The sequel reminds the contemporary readers of Offred and her miseries who told the categorised women of Gilead functioning as the Wives, Handmaids, and Marthas. This time, with three different female figures, Baby Nicole, Agnes, and Aunt Lydia, as protagonists/ narrators, who take place on the edges of the Gileadean order, Atwood transforms the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, told by Offred. The novel encircles Offred’s tale by shedding light on the subsequent events told by the second-generation women (Agnes and Nicole) and comprises the prequel parts that Aunt Lydia provides. In this way, to “destabilise [the] unitary vision of the subject and open it up to the multiple and complex reconfigurations of diversity and multiple belongings, so as to [emphasise] … the internal fractures within each subject-position, or the ‘difference within’”[1] with this follow-up text. With the streaming narratives of the three women who set forth the intersected phases to destroy the totalitarian regime and reached “identities of their own,” the sequel maintains the intriguing magic of the Gileadean tales. This article aims to trace the outlooks of different female narrators who procure a dimension of “gynesis” through which the re-exhibited Gilead comes to its end via women who have taken part in the period of dissolution.


Abbasi, H. (2022, October 7). Mahsa Amini did not die from blows to body, Iranian coroner says amid widespread protests. NBC News., coroner-report-rcna51169

Allardice, L. (2019, September 20). Interview: Margaret Atwood: ‘For a long time we were moving away from Gilead. Then we started going back towards it.’ The Guardian.

Atwood, M. (1996). The Handmaid’s tale. London: Vintage.

Atwood, M. (2017, March 3). Margaret Atwood on What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump. The New York Times.

Atwood, M. (2018, April 25). Margaret Atwood on How She Came to Write The Handmaid’s Tale: The Origin Story of an Iconic Novel. Literary Hub.

Atwood, M. (2019). The Testaments. New York: Doubleday.

Bethune, B. (2019, September 6). Margaret Atwood’s urgent new tale of Gilead. Maclean.

Braidotti, R. (2017). “Four theses on posthuman feminism.” In R. Grusin (Ed.), Anthropocene Feminism. The University of Minnesota Press.

Cixous, H. Cohen, K.and Cohen, P. (1976). The laugh of the Medusa. Signs, 1(4), the University of Chicago Press, 875–893.

Critics Quotes Flashcards Preview.

EU and council of Europe ‘alarmed’ at Poland’s plan to leave domestic violence treaty. (2020, July 27). SBS News.

Feldman, Lucy. (2019, September 10). Let’s Break Down the Most Mysterious Parts of The Testaments, With a Little Help From Margaret Atwood. Time.

Felski, R. (2000). Doing time: Feminist theory and postmodern culture. New York University Press.

Globus, G. G. (1995) The Postmodern Brain. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Goux, J.J. (1973). Economie et symbolique. Editions du Seuil.

Howells, C. A. (2018). Science fiction in the feminine: The handmaid’s tale. July 16, 2018. Accessed Oct 28, 2022.

Jardine, A. (1985). Gynesis: Configurations of woman and modernity. Cornell UP.

Margaret Atwood on the real-life events that inspired The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments. (2019, September 8). Penguin Books.

Oates, J. C. (2006). Margaret Atwood’s tale. The New York Review of Books, November 2.

The Irish Times Women’s Podcast. Soundcloud.

Van Dam, D., and Polak, S. (2021). Owning Gilead: franchising feminism through Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments. European Journal of English Studies, 25(2) (02. August 2021): 172-189.




How to Cite

Gündüz, E. İpek. (2022). The Testaments: The Difference within the Gileadean World . Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 10(20), 257–269.