The Handmaid's Tale Key Quotes: Women and Femininity

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  • Created on: 20-02-18 21:05
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  • The Handmaid's Tale Key Quotes: Women and Femininity
  • "A return to traditional values. Waste not want not. I am not being wasted. Why do I want?"
    • Chapter 2.  Offred makes a comparison between archaic art depictions of women and women in Gilead. These women and art are both decorative and pointless, leftovers that have been used up.
  • "Econowives, they're called. These women are not divided into functions. They have to do everything; if they can."
    • Chapter 5. Offred describes the roles of women in this society. Through the various "functions" the individuality of women individuality is completely stripped away.
  • "Shameful. immodest...I don't want to look at something that determines me so completely."
    • Chapter 12. Offred tries to disassociate herself from her body and what it represents. She is more than her body and she passively, silently rejects the determination society has made about her based on her form and fertility.
  • "I want to be valued, in ways that I am not; I want to be more than valuable."
    • Chapter 17. Offred misses the life where she was more than a valuable commodity because of her body. She longs for a value that transcends her uterus; a value of who she is as a person despite her womanhood.
  • "I am like a room where things once happened and now nothing does."
    • Chapter 18. Offred feels dispassionate and alienated from her body. Even when she tries to touch herself, she doesn't feel anything; she just thinks of herself as an empty room.
      • This reflects the collective feelings of Handmaid's.
  • "You wanted a women's culture... Be thankful for small mercies."
    • Chapter 21. Offred is having internal conversations with her mother and reveals that the conditions for women in Gilead is a subverted 'feminism' as women are recognised for being the heartbeat of society but are objectified because of this.
  • "I recognize them as truants. The official creed denies them, denies their very existence, yet here they are."
    • Chapter 37. Jezebel women are doing something they are not supposed to-- simply exist as they really are without the restrictions of main society (although they are still being objectified).
  • "So now that we don't have different clothes," I say, "you merely have different women."
    • Chapter 37. Men took women's choices away, but then they got bored because the women didn't seem individually interesting any more. Now they treat women like they're interchangeable.
  • "The best and most cost-effective way to control women for reproductive and other purposes was through women themselves."
    • Historical Notes. This passage makes Gilead seem even slimier by revealing how some women colluded to make life worse for the rest, while explaining how this process has "historical precedents" and is an established way of controlling an unruly population.


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