90+ Best Handmaid’s Tale Quotes: Exclusive Selection

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in a strongly patriarchal, quasi-Christian, totalitarian state, known as Gilead, that has overthrown the United States government. Profoundly inspirational Handmaid’s Tale quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.

If you’re searching for inspirational quotes from famous books that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of significant Brave New World quotes, powerful Never Let Me Go quotes and famous Catch 22 quotes.

Famous Handmaid’s Tale Quotes

Live in the present, make the most of it, it’s all you’ve got. — Offred

It isn’t running away they’re afraid of. We wouldn’t get far. It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge. — Handmaid’s Tale

It’s lack of love we die from. — June

Aunt Lydia said it was best not to speak unless they asked you a direct question. Try to think of it from their point of view she said, her hands clasped and wrung together, her nervous pleading smile. It isn’t easy for them. — Offred-Aunt Lydia

I listen to my heart, wave upon wave, salty and red, continuing on and on, marking time. — Handmaid’s Tale

She cannot read his word! —June

Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations. — 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. — Offred-Aunt Lydia

They are very interested in how other households are run; such bits of petty gossip give them an opportunity for pride or discontent. — Handmaid’s Tale

When power is scarce, a little of it is tempting. — Handmaid’s Tale

Agreed to it right away, really she didn’t care, anything with two legs and a good you-know-what was fine with her. They aren’t squeamish, they don’t have the same feelings we do. — Handmaid’s Tale

Give me children, or else I die. Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? Behold my maid Bilhah. She shall bear fruit upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. — Handmaid’s Tale

She is a flag on a hilltop, showing what can still be done: we too can be saved. , — Handmaid’s Tale

He was not a monster, to her. Probably he had some endearing trait: he whistled, off key, in the shower, he had a yen for truffles, he called his dog Liebchen and made it sit up for little pieces of raw steak. How easy it is to invent a humanity, for anyone at all. What an available temptation. — Offred

I don’t want to look at something that determines me so completely. — Handmaid’s Tale

There is something reassuring about the toilets. Bodily functions at least remain democratic. Everybody shits, as Moira would say. — Handmaid’s Tale

Moira had power now, she’d been set loose, she’d set herself loose. She was now a loose woman. — Handmaid’s Tale

The trouble is I can’t be, with him, any different than I usually am with him. Usually I am inert. Surely there must be something for us, other than this futility and bathos. — Handmaid’s Tale

Knowing was a temptation. What you don’t know won’t tempt you. — Aunt Lydia

That was one of the things they do. They force you to kill, within yourself. — Handmaid’s Tale

Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary. — Aunt Lydia

The tension between her lack of control and her attempt to suppress it is horrible. It’s like a fart in church. — Handmaid’s Tale

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. — Handmaid’s Tale

Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind. — Handmaid’s Tale

I have failed once again to fulfill the expectations of others, which have become my own. — Handmaid’s Tale

Don’t let the bastards grind you down. I repeat this to myself but it conveys nothing. You might as well say, Don’t let there be air; or Don’t be. I suppose you could say that. — Handmaid’s Tale

Cows don’t get married —Janine

As for my husband, she said, he’s just that. My husband. I want that to be perfectly clear. Till death do us part. It’s final. — Offred-Commander

The crimes of others are a secret language among us. Through them, we show ourselves what we might be capable of, after all. This is not a popular announcement. — 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. — Offred

We thought we had such problems. How were we to know we were happy? — Offred

Her fault, her fault, her fault, we chant in unison. — Handmaid’s Tale

Love is patient love is kind. — Eden

Don’t let them suffer too much. If they have to die, let it be fast. You might even provide a Heaven for them. We need You for that. Hell we can make for ourselves. — Handmaid’s Tale

Is that how we lived, then? But we lived as usual. Everyone does, most of the time. Whatever is going on is as usual. Even this is as usual, now. We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it. — Offred

The Commander’s Wife directs, pointing with her stick. Many of the Wives have such gardens, it’s something for them to order and maintain and care for. I once had a garden. I can remember the smell of the turned earth, the plump shapes of bulbs held in the hands, fullness, the dry rustle of seeds through the fingers. — Offred-Commander’s Wife

Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it. — Handmaid’s Tale

But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind. — Offred

So far all you’ve offered me is coconuts and treason. — Serena

Fiddled with the gravestones, or the church either. It’s only the more recent history that offends them. — Handmaid’s Tale

I wish I was ignorant, so I didn’t know how ignorant I am. — Handmaid’s Tale

You can’t help what you feel, but you can help how you behave. — Offred

The heart of Gliead, where the war cannot intrude except on televison. — Handmaid’s Tale

I am not your justification for existence. — Offred

There is something subversive about this garden of Serena’s, a sense of buried things bursting upwards, wordlessly, into the light, as if to say: Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently. — Handmaid’s Tale

But people will do anything rather than admit that their lives have no meaning. No use, that is. No plot. — Offred

Every love story is a tragedy if you wait long enough. — Fred

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. — Offred

Girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in mini skirts, then pants, then one earring, spiky green-streaked hair. — Handmaid’s Tale

I don’t need oranges. I need to scream. I need to grab the nearest machine gun. — June

Don’t let the bastards grind you down. I repeat this to myself but it conveys nothing. You might as well say, Don’t let there be air; or Don’t be. I suppose you could say that. — Handmaid’s Tale

Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it. — Handmaid’s Tale

It’s not the husbands you have to watch out for, said Aunt Lydia, it’s the Wives. You should always try to imagine what they must be feeling. Of course they will resent you. It is only natural. Try to feel for them. — Aunt Lydia

Everybody’s talking about happily ever after, but there’s just after. — Moira

Nobody’s heart is perfect. — Handmaid’s Tale

What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be. — Offred

She doesn’t make speeches anymore. She has become speechless. She stays in her home, but it doesn’t seem to agree with her. How furious she must be now that she has been taken at her word. — Handmaid’s Tale

Blessed be the fruit. — Handmaid’s Tale

I’ll pretend you can hear me. But it’s no good, because I know you can’t. , — Handmaid’s Tale

And Adam was not decieved, but the women being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved by childbearing. — Handmaid’s Tale

Replaced the serial polygamy common in the pre-Gilead period with the older form of simultaneous polygamy practiced in the Old Testament times. — Handmaid’s Tale

You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself. — Offred

Yearning for something that was always about to happen, and was never the same as the hands that were on us there and then. — Handmaid’s Tale

It makes me feel more in control as if there is a choice, a decision that could be made one way or the other. — Handmaid’s Tale

Butch paradise. — Handmaid’s Tale

Dear God, I think, I will do anything you like. Now that you’ve let me off, ı’ll obliterate myself, if that is what you really want; ı’ll empty myself, truly, become a chalice. I’ll give up Nick, ı’ll forget about the others, ı’ll stop complaining. I’ll accept my lot. I’ll sacrifice. I’ll repent. I’ll abdicate. I’ll renounce. — Handmaid’s Tale

He lives on the beach. — June

But the frown isn’t personal: it’s the red dress she disapproves of, and what it stands for. She thinks I may be catching, like a disease or any form of bad luck. — Handmaid’s Tale

Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse, for some. — Handmaid’s Tale

You can wet the rim of a glass and run your finger around the rim and it will make a sound. This is what I feel like: this sound of glass. I feel like the word shatter. — June

We learned to lip-read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other’s mouths. In this way we exchanged names from bed to bed: Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June. — Offred

There is more than one kind of freedom…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. — Handmaid’s Tale

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. — Offred

Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently. — Handmaid’s Tale

I would like to believe this is a story I’m telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance. If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off. — Offred

I feel like the word shatter. — Handmaid’s Tale

I wait. I compose myself. My self is a thing I must now compose, as one composes a speech. What I must present is a made thing, not something born. — Handmaid’s Tale

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. — Handmaid’s Tale

The sitting room is subdued, symmetrical; it’s one of the shapes money takes when it freezes. Money has trickled through this room for years and years, as if through an underground cavern, crusting and hardening like stalactites into these forms. — 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 . . . Now the flesh arranges itself differently. I’m a cloud, congealed around a central object, the shape of a pear, which is hard and more real than I am and glows red within its translucent wrapping. — Offred

The moment of betrayal is the worst, the moment when you know beyond any doubt that you’ve been betrayed: that some other human being has wished you that much evil. — Offred

Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse for some. — Handmaid’s Tale

Perhaps he saw the look on my face and mistook it for something else. Really what I wanted was the cigarette. — Handmaid’s Tale

Nothing safer than dead. — Handmaid’s Tale

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. — Handmaid’s Tale

A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze. — Offred

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