The Handmaid’s Tale: Tier 2 and 3 Vocabulary

  Vocabulary Definition
1 Elegy (n.) A reflective work of literature in response to a death, a lament for the dead
2 Epigraph (n.) Quotation usually found at the beginning of a book, or chapter of a book
3 Bildungsroman (n.) A novel in which the protagonist grows, learns and matures; a ‘coming of age’ narrative
4 Counter-discourse Resistance that takes the form of written or spoken communication
5 Denouement The final part of the story, a final resolution or revelation
6 Didactic (adj.) Intended to teach, particularly moral values
7 Discourse (ab n.) Written and spoken communication; the French philosopher and social theorist Michel Foucault wrote extensively about the relationship between discourse and power
8 Dissident (n.) A person who opposes official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state.
9 Dystopia (ab n.) Anti-utopia, the opposite of utopia (an imagined ideal); invented futuristic nightmare world based on current social, political, economic and environmental trends and warning against their possible disastrous implications
10 Écriture feminine (ab n.) Feminine writing, a term borrowed from French feminist theory about signs of gender in writing; it refers to highly metaphorical, often unpunctuated, flowing writing which represents female body processes and emotional rhythms
11 Ideology (ab n.) A set of ideas and beliefs found in a particular culture and in the texts produced by that culture
12 Institutionalised Established (typically a practice or activity) as a convention or norm in an organisation or culture
13 Erroneous (adj.) Wrong or incorrect
14 Obsequious (adj.) Obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree
15 Postmodern (ab n.) Contemporary writing which self-consciously draws attention to its own rhetorical techniques and narrative artifice, so disrupting conventions of realism, commenting ‘metafictively’ on writing as process, challenging the borderlines between fact and fictions, and problematising the relation between creative writing and critical commentary
16 Propaganda (n.) Literature, often polemical, designed to persuade a reader or audience to adopt a given cause
17 Puritan (n.) A member of a group of English Protestants of the late 16th and 17th centuries who regarded the Reformation of the Church as not going far enough and sought to simplify and regulate forms of worship
18 Introspection (ab n.) The examination of one’s own mental and emotional perspective
19 Repressive (adj.) (Especially of a social or political system) inhibiting or restraining personal freedom.
20 Satire (ab n.) Literature that explores vice or folly and makes them appear ridiculous; usually morally censorious
21 Theocracy (ab n.) A system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god.
22 Tyranny (ab n.) Cruel and oppressive government or rule.
23 Hegemony (ab n.) Leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others.
24 Stream of consciousness (ab n.) A literary style in which a character’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions are depicted in a continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description or conventional dialogue. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf are examples
25 Disillusioned (adj.) Disappointment in someone or something that one discovers to be less good than one had believed
26 Sardonic (adj.) Grimly mocking or cynical
27 Archaic (adj.) Old-fashioned or out of common usage
28 Pedantic (adj.) Excessively concerned with minor details or rules; over scrupulous
29 Susurration (ab n.) The indistinct sound of whispers or rustling
30 Ignominious (adj.) Deserving or causing public disgrace or shame
31 Beatitudes (n.) Reference to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:311, a lyrical passage written in tight parallelism. Manipulative propagandists add “Blessed are the silent”
32 Interpolation (n.) The insertion of something of a different nature into something else
33 Homage (n.) Special honour or respect shown publicly; in history a public display of allegiance
34 Ingratiate (v.) Bring oneself into favour with someone by flattering or trying to please them
35 Anachronistic (adj.) Historically inaccurate; belonging to another time period other than that being portrayed
36 Feminism (ab n.) The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes
37 Approbation (ab n.) Approval or praise
38 Transcendent (adj.) Beyond or above the range of normal or single human experience
39 Reverie (n.) A state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream
40 Surreptitiously (adv.) Behaving in a way that attempts to avoid notice or attention; secretively

2 thoughts on “The Handmaid’s Tale: Tier 2 and 3 Vocabulary

  1. I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this in my hunt for something concerning this.


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