Aunt Lydia Highlights a Tradeoff

Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, seems so far to be a novel about a protagonist (Offred) who is restricted in almost all aspects of her life. She must censor her speech, wear clothing that hinders her movement and line of sight, eat only what food she is given, and speak only to a handful of people. This is why Aunt Lydia’s statement is so interesting: “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” (Atwood 24). It seems as though the “freedom to” during the days of anarchy refers to Offred’s freedom to do anything she wanted; she didn’t have to worry about any of the previously mentioned restrictions. Now, in the days of post-anarchy, Offred has the freedom from certain things. For instance, Offred reflects on the differences between her previous life and her life now as a handmaid. Perhaps she now has the freedom from having to be concerned for her safety. She reflects, “Now we walk along the same street, in red pairs, and no man shouts obscenities at us, speaks to us, touches us. No one whistles” (Atwood 24). Now, Offred is free from the burden of being careful around the opposite sex. She has no concern with her own safety in this respect. Aunt Lydia’s statement seems to suggest the differences between Offred’s current and previous lives. There is a tradeoff, however unwanted it might be, between what she was free to do in her past life and being protected in her current life.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One response to “Aunt Lydia Highlights a Tradeoff

  1. I agree with you that there is certainly a trade off between “freedom from” and 
“freedom to”. If one has complete “freedom to” than perhaps that freedom would impinge upon another’s “freedom from” certain evils or injustices. Hence, there is a balance between the two, and a society must decide which freedom to weigh most heavily. In the time before, according to Aunt Lydia, it seems society suffered from too much “freedom to” and is now reverting back. However, I do not believe that the women of Gilead have either type of freedom since they can not make their own choices but still suffer many violent crimes that are supported by the state. It seems that Gilead is an oppressive dictatorship rather than a society with any freedoms at all, like Aunt Lydia would have the women believe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s