Book Report on “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Nights in the Circus” Essay

            Margaret Atwoods’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Angela Carters’s “Nights at the Circus” discuss the issues of the society during the period of colonization - Book Report on “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Nights in the Circus” Essay introduction. Atwoods’s “The Handmaids Tale” describes the life of Offred, a handmaid that needs to bear a child for an elite couple who could not have children. On the other hand, Carters’s “Nights at the Circus” describes the life of Fevvers, an extraordinary woman that has wings. Because of her being extraordinary she went to unusual struggles but at the end, she fell in love with unexpected man of her life. These two stories have simple conflicts but at the end, only one made a true ending even if it is not a depiction of true satisfaction. Therefore, it can be said that the two novels defines the idea of womanhood in different time and place – Offred is the woman of the past while Fevvers is the woman of the future.

As I have read these books, I can say that both of the stories are consistent in connecting to the previous situation happened. In “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the ending is expected but it is not a happy ending because the author did not discuss if Offred had a good life after she escaped from the elite couple that she is serving. Meanwhile, the “Nights at the Circus” is also expected but showed a traditional ending – Walser and Fevvers fell in love deeply. The two stories do not have significant twist. The pattern of the narratives is plain. That is why it seems that the ending is somehow expected by the readers. The “Nights at the Circus” maintained the fantasy element from the beginning up to the latter part showing the main character’s strengths and skills as a woman with wings. However, “The Handmaid’s Tale” does not have significant element of fantasy. In my own reading, I have seen that each scene is real based on the social construction and depiction of the story.

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Even though the two stories have their own fictive elements, both of them describe the reality within the society. Artwoods’s story discusses the struggle of women during the period of colonization where they are unable to fight for their rights. Carters’s story is also the same. Even if it talks about the lives of extraordinary characters, it discusses how the society deprives or discriminate people who are not normal. The powerful wants abnormal things to be their own like what happened to Fevvers – many people wants to get her because of her ability to fly. The two books described the facts about unjust law of society.

            In “The Handmaid’s Tale,” I am not satisfied with the ending because there is no concrete resolution to the conflict. The author did not discuss what had happened to the main character after she escaped from her employer. The novel seemed to end without significant justification towards the protagonist. Many readers would seek for Offred’s salvation but because the author did not supply the information regarding this part, the readers are responsible to obtain their own ending. For me, this is a blurred concept because it is not appropriate to end a story without a proper or reasonable justice towards the main character. Though it is accepted that the author has a choice whether to make his or her readers supply their own ending or he/she will do, the concept is unclear for not stating what happened next after everything. I have seen that Offred became a ghost in her own story for the reason that she vanished at the end – it is an incomplete story for me.

            On the other way around, “The Nights at the Circus” is somehow satisfying because the main characters became connected through their emotions to one another. Though it is a usual ending, it is not really a satisfaction because there is no element of twist or surprise in the end. After a long journey of the main character, it seems that it is not really worth it to have that kind of ending. However, the attempt of the author to make the story a good one, it is accepted that she made an input for the idea of social construction.

            As a conclusion, the two books contained relevant data and evidences about the status of women and the extraordinary in the society. The authors made a significant attack to make their readers compel with the social construction and deconstruction. The “The Handmaid’s Tale” discusses the usual scenario of the nation during the time when only few people have the power over the others, when women could not act for their rights and privileges, and when the low class people are being discriminated by the elite. The “Nights at the Circus” describes the new image of fictive narrative where there is a woman who can fly and a group of people giving fun and laughter to the audience as well as the readers. Both narratives have female protagonist that strengthens the idea of womanhood. As a connection, even if Offred could not show her identity, Fevvers made the changes.


Carter, A. (1986). “Nights at the Circus.” New York: Penguin Group.

Atwoods, M. (1998). “The Handmaid’s Tale.” New York: Anchor Books.

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