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Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” Quotes (75 Quotes)


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  • I marvel again at the nakedness of men's lives: the showers right out in the open, the body exposed for inspection and comparison, the public display of privates. What is it for? What purposes of reassurance does it serve? The flashing of a badge, look, everyone, all is in order, I belong here. Why don't women have to prove to one another that they are women? Some form of unbuttoning, some split-crotch routine, just as casual. A doglike sniffing.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • My red skirt is hitched up to my waist, though no higher. Below it the Commander is fucking. What he is fucking is the lower part of my body.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. 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.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • I stand on the corner, pretending I am a tree.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")


  • Neither of us says the word love, not once. It would be tempting fate; it would be romance, bad luck.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • There is something powerful in the whispering of obscenities, about those in power. There's something delightful about it, something naughty, secretive, forbidden, thrilling. It's like a spell, of sorts. It deflates them, reduces them to the common denominator where they can be dealt.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • I used to think of my body as an instrument, of pleasure, or a means of transportation, or an implement for the accomplishment of my will.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it's heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • There's always something to occupy the inquiring mind.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • You can think clearly only with your clothes on.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • I want to be held and told my name. I want to be valued, in ways that I am not; I want to be more than valuable. I repeat my former name; remind myself of what I once could do, how others saw me. I want to steal something
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")

  • These albums were thick with babies, but my replicas thinned out as I grew older, as if the population of my duplicates had been hit with some plague.
    (Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale")


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