The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
It occurs to me that she may be a spy, a plant, set to trap me; such is the soil in which we grow. But I can't believe it; hope is rising in me, like sap in a tree. Blood in a wound. We have made an opening. (27.46)
The narrator's desire for freedom and escape is so profound that it makes her careless. Although Ofglen "may be a spy," the narrator can't keep herself from confiding in her. Ofglen has reminded her of her capacity for hope.
It's strange to remember how we used to think, as if everything were available to us, as if there were no contingencies, no boundaries; as if we were free to shape and reshape forever the ever – expanding perimeters of our lives. I was like that too, I did that too. (35.22)
The narrator feels so separate from her life before, when freedom and autonomy were rights, not privileges. Now she recognizes them as the precious things they were, almost marveling at how little they were appreciated when people had them, and how they seem worlds away from the life she has now.
Yet there's an enticement in this thing, it carries with it the childish allure of dressing up. And it would be so flaunting, such a sneer at the Aunts, so sinful, so free. Freedom, like everything else, is relative. (36.18)
Given her limits, the narrator has to find freedom where she can. As she says, "it's relative." Here, she's "dressing up" not to recover her own identity but to temporarily reject her status as Handmaid and to "sneer at the Aunts." It's a false freedom, though. It can't last, and ultimately it doesn't get her anywhere.