The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood Essay

The Handmaid 's Tale By Margaret Atwood Essay

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“[W]e are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else 's legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make” (Berry). In The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood the protagonist Offred lives through a changing of society, in which is described by Aunt Lydia in the new society as the difference of freedom to and freedom from. The complexities of freedom are examined through social norms, relationships, and safety in society. As Offred notices the differences between her old life and her life now readers, especially North American readers, see how much freedom they take advantage of as a society.
Social interactions and socialization in Gilead is limited and controlled, things as simple as a greeting are controlled for the Handmaids. An acceptable greeting would be “Blessed be the fruit” and a response to that could be, “May the Lord open” (Atwood 21). This greeting references declining birth rates, the word open refers to their hope that the birth rate will rise. This is an acceptable topic among Handmaids because it keeps them thinking about their job as a Handmaid, to give birth to a child for the Commander and his wife. In pre-Gilead greetings could be as simple as breezing into a room and asking if someone has “[g]ot any cigs” (62). In pre-Gilead everyone had the freedom to ask what they wanted and the freedom to withhold that information if they so chose to; whereas in Gilead, they have the freedom from having to make awkward small talk or trying to ignore a very forthright person. Schooling and work in Gilead for the Handmaids are not discussed openly other than the Red Center where the...


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... consequences when “given a cutting edge” (8). As Offred explains the lack a danger to one’s self in Gilead, “it isn’t running away they’re afraid of, [i]t’s those other escapes” the government is taking away the freedom of (8). Gilead prevents this from happening by taking out any unnecessary glass, and what cannot be helped, such as windows, are shatterproof. Also locks on any doors are removed and razors are not permitted, they also “removed anything you can tie a rope to” including lights and chandeliers hanging from ceilings (7).
In Gilead, the forceful new rules restricting the freedom of everyone who lives within the government, make some realize the freedom they had in pre-Gilead and how much they took it all for granted. It’s reflected through Offred’s thoughts into the reader’s making them question how much everyone takes freedom for granted in their lives.

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