7 iconic scenes from The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic, The Handmaid's Tale, has been turned into a graphic novel by Canadian artist Renée Nault. Here are seven of the most infamous scenes illustrated from the book.

The Red Centre

The beds stretch as far as the eye can see as the Aunts parade between them, keeping watch over the helpless and horror-stricken new Handmaids.

The Handmaid's Tale The Red Centre

Meeting Serena Joy, the Commander's wife

In their first meeting, Serena Joy is determined to show Offred who is in charge. Like Atwood, Nault portrays her as an older woman, where in the TV series Yvonne Strahovsky shows her as more of a contemporary of Offred’s. 

The Handmaid's Tale Serena Joy and Offred

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

This phrase has become synonymous with The Handmaid’s Tale and female resistance. Here, Offred discovers the message scratched into the wall by her predecessor and begins to hope. 

The Handmaid's Tale Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum

The ceremony

This is the central moment in the lives of Gilead’s Commanders, their Wives and the Handmaids. As in the novel and the TV series, Nault doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the scene. The close-ups of their faces say so much here.

The Handmaid's Tale the Ceremony


Gilead forbids women to read or write. (In the second series of the TV Serena Joy has her little finger cut off for daring to read from the Bible.) But Commander Waterford invites Offred into his study to play Scrabble and it becomes not just a game of words but a game of power. The words that appear on the board are ripe with significance. 

The Handmaid's Tale - the Commander and Offred play scrabble


In Gilead, sex is purely functional, not for pleasure. Jezebel’s shouldn’t exist but, just as the Handmaids have their secret Mayday network, so the Commanders have their illicit entertainment and, as their relationship develops, Commander Waterford decides to show Offred this hidden world.

The Handmaid's Tale - at Jezebel's

Traitor! Traitor?

Towards the end of the novel, the Handmaids are tricked into thinking that one of the Guardians is a rapist. In fact, he was part of the resistance. But the Handmaids are pawns in this story, and this scene shows how they are manipulated by the constant threat of death – or worse.

The Handmaid's Tale - traitor?

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