Freedom. What is freedom? Are we all free? Some people will say that they are free, but in real no one is completely free. There is always a power holding us back. Some people have more freedom than others, but nobody is completely free to do whatever they wish to do. Law, religion, society, family, even our own mind has the power to control us. Sometimes when we are alone and we think of doing something which is immoral, there is always a voice at the back of our head that God is watching us, refraining us from doing certain things. We are not free, even if we like to think so.
Under his eye!
Today I will share with you my top seven favourite quotes from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel discussing issues of terrorism, racism, gender inequality and how women are useful only because of their fertility, otherwise they are completely useless. The handmaids of Gilead are therefore raped against their wishes by their lord commanders for the purpose of reproduction. If the commander’s name is Fred then the handmaid’s name is Offred. Quite disgusting right? They are not allowed to use their real names. The wives of the commanders have complete power over the handmaids but in real they are also powerless when compared to the men of Gilead. They are not allowed to read or write or they will lose a finger. Their only duty is to serve their husbands.
I love the novel because it is quite close to reality. There are still many parts of the world where women are oppressed. They are not given their rights and always treated as inferior.
Following are my favourite quotes from The Handmaid’s Tale.
1. We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.
2. 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.
3. Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.
And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know too why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.
There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.
4. But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest.
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 and 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.
5. 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.
6. One and one and one and one doesn’t equal four. Each one remains unique, there is no way of joining them together. They cannot be exchanged, one for the other. They cannot replace each other.
7. I wish this story were different. I wish it were more civilized. I wish it showed me in a better light, if not happier, than at least more active, less hesitant, less distracted by trivia. I wish it had more shape. I wish t were about love, or about sudden realizations important to one’s life, or even about sunsets, birds, rainstorms, or snow. I’m sorry there is so much pain in this story. I’m sorry it’s in fragments, like a body caught in crossfire or pulled apart by force. But there is nothing I can do to change it.
Whatever you do, Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
Blessed be the day! May the Lord open.