The Handmaid's Tale Freedom

1070 Words5 Pages
“[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” (Wendell Berry). In the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, the protagonist Offred lives through a changing of society, in which is described by her teacher in the new society, the difference of freedom to and freedom from. This allows Offred to distinguish the good and the bad in the new society to further help her understand why everything changed in the first place. The differences are shown clearly throughout the novel mainly within social situations, relationships, and safety in society.…show more content…
Things as simple as a greeting are controlled for the Handmaids and acceptable greeting would be “Blessed be the fruit” and a response to that could be “May the Lord open” (Atwood 21). Which in this case is referencing declining birthrates, in hopes of it to rise, an acceptable topic among Handmaids. In pre-Gilead greetings could be as simple as breezing into a room and asking if someone’s “[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 choose. Whereas in Gilead, they have the freedom from having to make awkward small talk or trying to ignore a very forthright person. School and/or work in Gilead are not talked about forwardly other than the Red Center where the Handmaids learn how to behave. Offred also mentions the Commander’s office and how he spends most of his time in there so it could be implied that he works from home. In pre-Gilead Children start school at the age of four, and depending on the schooling system, enter high school at 14 in these ten years they learn set skills that are basic introductions to topics such as sciences, literature, mathematics, and different art forms. Then they would most likely apply to post-secondary schooling to further education in a topic they would later hopefully work in until they are 65 and can hopefully retire. Pre-Gilead life gives everyone freedom to choose what…show more content…
Offred speculates about the wife being salvaged she tells how one of the only things they get salvaged for is for killing a Handmaid. She also explains how shocked she was when Nick would wink at her or try to make small talk and that he was risking himself. She then brings up that maybe he is an eye and maybe “it was a test, to see what [she] would do” (20). In pre-Gilead flirting and catcalling was perfectly normal but anything past that was not, most women know when and where they can walk alone without being worried about being assaulted. As well as assault, Gilead strives to protect people from other people’s mistakes that are in the form of terrorism. Throughout the society of Gilead, there are checkpoints where every person has to have their identification cards checked into a system, the guards check for “disguised” behaviour such as fumbling and say “[n]othing is safer than dead” (23). Gilead not only saves people from other people’s mistakes but also saves people from themselves, people cave to drastic consequences when “given a cutting edge” (8). As Offred explains the lack a danger to one’s self “it isn’t running away they’re afraid of, [i]t’s those other escapes” the government
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