Category Archives: Reading Responses

The Last Class Notes! We Made it!


As a refresher for the end of the course, please read Professor Belli’s blog post above this one: “Wrapping Up The Semester”. Some reminders for us all are:

  • Essay 2: The Handmaids Tale due tomorrow, Friday December 15th at 1pm. 30% of our grades! Please submit your essays through the dropbox link available in the “Assignments” tab
  • Reread and edit your essays before submitting them! When you believe you are finished writing, print the essay and read it aloud slowly to catch missed errors, (grammar and spelling wise), formatting and sentence quality. This is strongly encouraged by Professor Belli!
  • REMEMBER: Submit essay 2 as a word document! Not a PDF or anything else so that the professor can have access to it
  • A 1-page cover letter is REQUIRED! Essays without cover letters will not be accepted or given a grade. The cover letter must be a thoughtful and detailed reflection on the revision process of Essay 2. The cover letter is written after finishing the essay and should be the first page of the document
  • Course reflections are due in the dropbox on Tuesday, December 19th by 2:30pm! The dropbox link for handing this in is also in the “Assignments” tab. This is also our last official day of class!
  • Final course grades should be available on CunyFIrst by December 27th @ midnight! All grades are non-negotiable but feel free to email Professor Belli with questions regarding the breakdown of your grade, or even help for your academic future
  • Please review the writing resources available to you on the site! Use all that you can for great essays

Today’s Mini Essay Workshop


What is background info?

  • Short and to-the-point summary
  • Concise and relevant
  • Comes at the start of the essay, promptly following the introduction paragraph, (First body paragraph)
  • Background info may be included to explain certain claims and arguments within your body paragraphs.

“Summary is not bad, but just summary is bad.” -Professor Belli

More Reminders

-Margaret Atwood’s introduction of the book shouldn’t be taken into account in your essays, as it is Atwoods own interpretation of the novel.

-An introduction is an overview of your essay; not an overview of the novel. It is also known as your thesis paragraph.

-When citing quotes from the novel, only the number is needed! This means it should be : (4). Not: (Atwood 4).

*REVERSE OUTLINES ARE HELPFUL AFTER COMPLETEING YOUR ESSAYS! This is when you read through each body paragraph and create a topic sentence, (5-10 words), to sum up each paragraph.


Lastly, I want to wish everyone a successful finals week and a happy holiday season as we conclude this fall semester! Good luck to all! 🙂

A smothering world

The television series, The Handmaid’s Tale that created by Bruce Miller which was based on the novel written by a Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood was released in April, 2017. This television series highly restored what exactly telling in the book and reflected a creepy society with totalitarian. The authority of divine rights, imaginary freedom and the absolute authority of men and different ruling classes were vividly showed in this television series.

A smothering atmosphere was fulfilled in the entire television series, the first episode started with a violent scene which was several armed men chased a woman named June and her daughter, Hannah and took away her daughter from her eventually. She was also taken to the place called red center and trained by Aunt Lydia to be a handmaid. As June, now was named Offred mentioned, “I had another name, but it’s forbidden now. So many things are forbidden now.” Here strongly shows how exactly she feels from this place which full of imaginary freedom. And in the scene of giving lessons to the handmaids by aunt Lydia, she complains about the old society in United States on the birth control pills, morning-after pills and murdering babies as the reasons for downward of birthrates. The word “ordinary” later conclude how they live after in this world. As Offred tells at the end of the episode, “someone’s watch, here someone’s always watching, nothing can change, it all has to look the same.” The world here has restricted their real freedom and fool them with their imaginary freedom. This is not what they desired but they can just accept this .

The second episode was even worst than what it showed in the first, Offred used a lot of flashbacks and aside to reflect what she feel from bottom of her heart. She is not feeling comfortable in this world at all. She was convinced to join Ofglen because she feels comfortable talking to her, however, Ofglen was replaced by another woman at the end and Offred feels extremely dissatisfied with that. They don’t have the rights to read and talk about the news, between them, they can only discuss about the weather and some word from the bible such as “Blessed be the fruit” and “May the lord open”. They  were always being watched by the “Eyes”, not only women, and some other men from lower classes were being judged by them also. There was no privacy and no choice for them at all. Through out the whole episode was just a smothering atmosphere of society, a society that full of the smell of deaths.



Friendly reminder: You can actually watch The Handmaid’s Tale for free on this link attached below, just ignored the all Chinese words surrounded and click on the episode number only to watch whatever episode you wanted.It was with mix subtitle, English and Chinese. There was 65 seconds for the advertisement, too. Just be a little patient.


What Did I Just Watch

Comparing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood to the Hulu series I am actually disappointed. It is understandable that the book and the show/movie will never be the same, some details will always be left out. Maybe I will always prefer the books over the series/movies so I might seem somewhat bias. However in my opinion too many details were left out or added in. The actual story to The Handmaid’s Tale is no longer how it was written in the original book. I do not remember ever reading that Luke was shot while they tried to runaway. In the book, Offred continues to keep hope that both her child and husband are alive and somewhere safe. He is never actually presumed dead in the book. The Commanders and their wives are described as very old in the book, on the other hand the show portrays them as young. Now when you think of old you can imagine sterile but in the show the Commanders and their wives are both young erasing that image. It also takes away from the idea the book has that men can ever be sterile regardless of how old they get. The problem can only be within the women and never the men. But since the Commanders and their wives are shown as young that idea no longer makes as much sense as it did in the book. The disgust Serena Joy feels towards Offred does remain thankfully in both the show and the book. But the way that Nick interacts with Offred is completely different. That touch of the foot in the book is not shown within the series. That part in the book is actually very important since it is basically the start of Offred and Nick’s relationship. The touch of the foot is the affection Offred, does not realize in that moment, needs. But that scene does not exist in the series. If I am not mistaken, the handmaid’s are not supposed to interact that openly in front of anyone according to the book. Yet in the series, Offred and Offglen seem to be speaking without a worry. They are supposed to whisper but in the series they are speaking at a normal volume. The idea of “Mayday” also does not exist in the series so far and that was a good chunk of the book. The word “Mayday” played the role of a secret word that becomes the reason that Offglen and Offred become closer. Mayday is the reason Offred gets an insight to a whole different world in the book. In the series, they jump to giving her that insight. I also do not remember Offred spilling her entire story to Offglen in the book, but she does in the series. Lastly, the significance of the Ceremony and giving birth is completely lost in the series. When Janine is shown in the moments building up towards her giving birth the wife is no where to be found in that room. Aunt Lydia and all of the handmaid’s are the ones that are there with her. In the book, the wife is meant to hold the arms of the handmaid during the ceremony as well as when she is giving birth. That act is meant to symbolize a kind of togetherness. The handmaid is the path for the wife’s destination which is the baby. Holding the handmaid’s arms during birth is to show that the wife herself is also feeling what the handmaid feels. It makes the wife a part of the process. That doesn’t exist in the series.

The Hulu series is not awful, but for someone who has read the book and is now watching the series it’s almost like torture. I would like to rewrite their entire script for them.

Handmaid’s Tale the Series; Differences and Similarities.

After reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and upon watching the first two episodes of the adapted series i have to say that there are definitely different approaches that the directors decided to take compared to the novel. The story stays true to some degree while only changing the timeline in some events; for example, On episode 2 Oflgen has been replaced by a new Ofglen, the memories of her trying to escape with Luke and even her time in the red center and memories of Moira are given to us much early on in the show. Ofglen as we should all know was a form of whisperer in the sense that she had some form of network and at the very least pretended like she knew something. Perhaps she did and that was the reason she was replaced. i was surprised to see her memories of everything that had happened to her so soon but i can see that it can allow us the people watching the show, whether we have read the book or not, to become aware of the consequences of rebelling to the authority of Gilead. One vicious scene that showed the people watching the stakes of rebelling was when Ofwarren had said a smart remark towards Aunt Lydia and even giving Aunt Lydia the good old F Bomb, The consequences was to become completely broken and having an eyeball plucked out from her eye socket. Moira is a character that has been so full of life and ready to speak her mind yet she herself is complying to the rules because she understands the stakes. Rebelling can lead to death. These kind of consequences are very similar to the novel. A lot of things can lead to death and i can appreciate that because it can lead to a lot of suspense as we watch these characters struggle to keep their sanity. One surprising difference however was actually the very beginning. The series heavily implies that Luke had died trying to escape but in the novel it still is implied that he died but there were no gunshots fired, in fact Offred is more sure that he is dead in the series while in the novel she has hope that he survived. The scenes where we get to see the commander and Serena Joy are a bit different as well. To begin, Offred meets them basically at the same time while Serena gets her first piece telling Offred ” if she gets trouble she’ll give trouble”. The commander looks fairly young in the series as well not like as if he was in his twenties but the novel certainly makes him appear older than how he was shown in the series. This is clearly an adaptation to appease some type of audience somewhere. I can appreciate their efforts.  I also appreciate how certain quotes from the novel are salvaged into the series since some of these quotes are powerful. One of the powerful quotes was when Offred is describing the furniture in her room and the shatterproof glass and how it only opens a little bit, that it is not because they are afraid that the handmaids will run because they will certainly catch them but they don’t want the handmaid’s to take the easy way out with suicide using shattered glass. This to me is so powerful because it tells the viewers that the handmaid’s are definitely valuable yet they don’t care how they feel and that there is no easy way out. Overall as someone who has read the novel and now watching the show i can see the changes made for the series and do appreciate the content given.

Adaptation to the big screen

The Hulu series of The Handmaid’s Tale differs in many ways from the novel. The Hulu series which was created by Bruce Miller, in my opinion, has done an excellent job in portraying what the novel was intended to say. The first 2 episodes take a rather fast pace to those who have read the novel. The episodes go through several chapter and including the ceremony. I feel like the creator had to do this in order to keep people watching past the pilot. In television, as well as novels, have to engage the reader into staying around until the end. The creator of the show had to take what was most interesting about the show and incorporate it into the pilot. In this case I think one of the more interesting aspects of the novel definitely is the ceremony and the strange aspect of it. This with the little backstory we get to see in the form of flashbacks from Offred do well into telling the viewer what is going on without giving too much of the story away.

With every television or film adaptation there has to be changes made. This is for both creative and time purposes. In this case I believe it was more of the creative process that had to be changed because the novel is long enough to create a series of multiple episodes without adding something of ones own. This can be seen already in the first 2 episodes of the series. When the Salvaging is taking place there is a big switch from the novel in which Offerd can be seen not wanting to participate at all in the act but in the series she is portrayed as someone who will take matters into her own hands. In the series Offred is the first one to deliver the first blow to the accused rapist. She is the one who is seen making the kicks and punches count and blood can be seen covering her robe and face. I think this is a very important and drastic change which changes the way the viewer sees Offred. In the novel despite everything that she gone through in the end she does not see it in herself to hurt someone else. She can not bring herself to hurt someone who she knows most likely is innocent. In the series one can say Offred is not afraid to lay the first punch and is seen as a much stronger character. This changes the tone of the series and makes it that much different from the novel. It puts a nice twist to the characters and makes it interesting to see how this new Offred will react to other situations.

I will continue to watch the series and see what other changes have been made. I do feel like the characters were changed to fit the narrative of the series. Some of the more notable are Serena Joy and the Commander, they are portrayed much younger than in the novel, I do not mind the change but it is there nevertheless.

The Handmaid’s Tale TV Series

The famous novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was recently recreated earlier this year by Bruce Miller as a Hulu TV original series. Many elements of the TV series differ from the book, Bruce Miller was able to extract the dramatic appeal that the novel originally had, he even went as far as enhancing this appeal in some episodes. The cast for Bruce Miller show were selected perfectly, as someone that has both read the book and watched the show I can assure you that the cast truly embodies the will of the characters. Interestingly enough the show took a different route for character development, the writers for the show decided to shine more light on smaller characters. For example both Ofglen and Serena Joy were smaller characters in the novel that helped exemplify the plot, but during the Hulu TV original series if felt like they had their own subplots.

The TV series had a mysterious vibe, and from episode to episode, the writers are able to  keep the viewers on the edge of their seats. The writers provided additional information to the characters and their background, this was obviously to elongate the show. It was satisfying that they provided additional information because there was a lot of questions left after reading the novel were answered in the tv series about Offred, which was played by Elisabeth Moss, and her Husband Luke played by O-T Fagbenle. The TV series allowed the viewer to see their life before gilead, the lifestyle they lived, how the couple met, and most importantly how Offred was captured into the city of Gilead. The viewer is also given comfort by knowing that her family is alive and are safe.

Luke managed to escape and currently lives in Canada, and Hanna, their daughter, was captured but is still able and is safe. I am assuming that she is being raised  to one day become a handmaid, like her mother. We got to know that Nick played by  Max Minghella was actually an eye, which seems to make a huge difference and a calmness about Offred’s escape. The audience may feel safe about where Offred is going, and about her future assuming that Nick may be able to protect her. We also get to know the Commander played by Joseph Fiennes, and Serena Joy, played by Yvonne Strzechowski, in dept. Serena Joy was actually one of the masterminds behind the creation of Gilead, which ironically seems bizarre, because she didn’t seem very happy. Overall the series is a must see, because of the intensity of its excitement, it draws the viewer in. After watching the entire series, I have become a supportive fan, and am anticipating the second season.

Handmaid’s Tale Crash Course part 1

I stumbled upon a video on YouTube about the Handmaid’s Tale. It is pure coincidence and as soon as I watched it, I felt the need to share it with you. It doesn’t have too much information, just some background information about Margaret Atwood, some information about what the novel is about, and if I’m not mistaken the Youtuber said the book was based on certain real events, which he then showed. I thought it was fun to watch which is why I’m posting this so that you can enjoy it too. The following is the link, copy and paste it online, it will take you to the video, I hope you like it.