1. Education

'The Handmaid's Tale' Quotes

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The Handmaid's Tale is a bestselling novel by Margaret Atwood. The setting has been described as a feminist dystopia, where war and pollution has made pregnancy and child-birth increasingly difficult. Women are enslaved as prostitutes/"virginal" concubines ("handmaiden")--in an effort to repopulate and control the population. Here are a few quotes from The Handmaid's Tale.

  • "Blessed be the fruit." Chapter 4
  • "There is more than one kind of freedom...Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it." Chapter 5
  • "She is a flag on a hilltop, showing what can still be done: we too can be saved." Chapter 5
  • "They are very interested in how other households are run; such bits of petty gossip give them an opportunity for pride or discontent." Chapter 5
  • "Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary." Chapter 6
  • "I'll pretend you can hear me. But it's no good, because I know you can't." Chapter 7
  • "She doesn't make speeches anymore. She has become speechless. She stays in her home, but it doesn't seem to agree with her. How furious she must be now that she has been taken at her word." Chapter 8
  • "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum" Chapter 9
  • "We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. It gave us more freedom." Chapter 10
  • "I don't want to look at something that determines me so completely." Chapter 12
  • "I wait. I compose myself. My self is a thing I must now compose, as one composes a speech. What I must present is a made thing, not something born." Chapter 12
  • "Her fault, her fault, her fault, we chant in unison." Chapter 13
  • "I have failed once again to fulfill the expectations of others, which have become my own." Chapter 13
  • "Give me children, or else I die. Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? Behold my maid Bilhah. She shall bear fruit upon my knees, that I may also have children by her." Chapter 15
  • "Moira had power now, she'd been set loose, she'd set herself loose. She was now a loose woman." Chapter 22
  • "Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn't really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn't about who can sit can who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it's about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing." Chapter 23
  • "There is something subversive about this garden of Serena's, a sense of buried things bursting upwards, wordlessly, into the light, as if to say: Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently." Chapter 25
  • "That was one of the things they do. They force you to kill, within yourself." Chapter 30
  • "Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse for some." Chapter 32
  • "Agreed to it right away, really she didn't care, anything with two legs and a good you-know-what was fine with her. They aren't squeamish, they don't have the same feelings we do." Chapter 33
  • "And Adam was not decieved, but the women being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved by childbearing." Chapter 34
  • "There is something reassuring about the toilets. Bodily functions at least remain democratic. Everybody shits, as Moira would say." Chapter 39
  • "The trouble is I can't be, with him, any different than I usually am with him. Usually I am inert. Surely there must be something for us, other than this futility and bathos." Chapter 39
  • "It makes me feel more in control, as if there is a choice, a decision that could be made one way or the other." Chapter 41
  • "The crimes of others are a secret language among us. Through them we show ourselves what we might be capable of, after all. This is not a popular announcement." Chapter 42
  • "Dear God, I think, I will do anything you like. Now that you've let me off, I'll obliterate myself, if that is what you really want; I'll empty myself, truly, become a chalice. I'll give up Nick, I'll forget about the others, I'll stop complaining. I'll accept my lot. I'll sacrifice. I'll repent. I'll abdicate. I'll renounce." Chapter 45
  • "Don't let the bastards grind you down. I repeat this to myself but it conveys nothing. You might as well say, Don't let there be air; or Don't be. I suppose you could say that." Chapter 46

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