Handmaid’s Tale Sayings and Quotes

Margaret Atwood’s guide The Handmaid’s Story — printed in 1986, and its sequel The Testaments, printed over 30 years later — have received quite a few awards. The primary was a groundbreaking novel that painted a dystopian world, alarmingly seeming to be just some chilling steps from our present actuality. However The Handmaid’s Story sayings won’t be so acquainted.

From Gilead, to biblical ties, slave labour, and a society gone off the rails, Atwood has created a world that’s really horrifying.

And in 2017, Hulu tailored the novel right into a collection, which has grow to be a revered adaptation of the novel.

RELATED: Margaret Atwood Violently Burned ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to Make a Powerful (and Pricey) Point

Over a number of seasons, viewers have skilled the horrors of a totalitarian society as seen via the eyes of June, a handmaid (performed by Elizabeth Moss). Although the collection spirals off in instructions not included within the traditional novel, creator Margaret Atwood did work carefully with creator Bruce Miller to supply a collection that might be binge-watched each by hardcore Atwood followers in addition to those that had by no means even heard of the novel.

It’s particularly the latter that may have hassle preserving all of the terminology straight. The Handmaid’s Story sayings will be complicated, however they’re almost at all times heavy in which means. As a way to expertise the total energy of Atwood’s scathing indictment of an ultra-conservative society gone mistaken, you want a crash course in Handmaid language.

What is a handmaid?

First off, handmaids are fertile ladies who’re to serve the newly based nation of Gilead by bearing wholesome infants in an in any other case dwindling and more and more infertile inhabitants. They’re additionally ladies who did “questionable” issues, in response to Gilead’s ultra-conservative ethics code: get divorced, be in a relationship with somebody who had beforehand been divorced, be in a same-sex relationship (see Gender Traitor), have an abortion, and so on.

Within the new republic, they’re seen as property, as mirrored of their names. Upon project as a handmaid, they’re now not known as by their first names however quite by the prefix “of” and their new commander’s first title. June, for instance, turns into Offred when she is assigned as Fred’s handmaid. Handmaids are assigned to infertile {couples}.

Marthas, Aunts, Eyes, Wives? Understanding Key Roles in The Handmaid’s Story

Think about a world the place air pollution and nuclear destruction have left many ladies infertile. An underground motion by the title of “Sons of Jacob” is stirring. They consider that reverting to conventional values will recast the human race in God’s favor and repair all their issues. They devise a coup to overthrow america Authorities and create Gilead.

The title Gilead, like many phrases and sayings in The Handmaid’s Story, is a biblical reference. Within the Bible, Gilead is a fertile, plentiful area in Palestine. The Sons of Jacob (additionally a biblical reference to the 12 sons of Jacob who would lead the 12 tribes of Israel) need to create a utopian nation freed from the air pollution and toxins which have ruined the remainder of the world.


The leaders of the Sons of Jacob are known as Commanders. After their profitable coup, they’re now the main political social gathering in Gilead (the previous United States). They’re those who devised the brand new social and financial constructions in Gilead. They maintain immense energy.

Wives and Econowives

Wives are the simple appellation of Commanders’ wives. If these ladies are unable to bear youngsters, their family is assigned a handmaid. The reference right here is to the biblical story of Jacob and Rachel. Rachel was unable to bear youngsters, so she tells her husband to impregnate her handmaid Bilhah.

Genesis 30:1-3, the King James Model, reads, “And when Rachel noticed that she naked Jacob no youngsters, Rachel envied her sister; and stated unto Jacob, Give me youngsters, or else I die. And Jacob’s anger was kindled towards Rachel: and he stated, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? And she or he stated, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she or he shall bear upon my knees, that I may additionally have youngsters by her.”

Those that have seen the present will instantly consider “The Ceremony”, that awkward month-to-month occasion the place a Commander tries to impregnate his handmaid, who’s mendacity on his spouse’s lap.

Within the Bible story, Bilhah bears two sons, however it’s Rachel who names them and takes them as her personal.

Econowives are ladies married to males who rank decrease than Commanders, reminiscent of Guardians (Gilead’s police drive).


Marthas are infertile ladies who function maids. The biblical reference right here is to Mary’s sister Martha who, when Jesus got here to their home, was extra taken with serving him meals than in listening to his teachings. Within the tv collection, the Martha viewers get to know the very best is performed by Amanda Brugel.


Aunts prepare and self-discipline the handmaids and oversee births. They’re infertile or older ladies. They’re additionally the one ladies in Gilead allowed to learn or write. Essentially the most well-known one, in fact, is Aunt Lydia.

The Rachel and Leah Heart, also referred to as the Crimson Heart, is the place handmaids are educated. That is, once more, a reference to Jacob’s two wives, Rachel and Leah. Leah was in a position to have youngsters, however Rachel was not.

One of the crucial disturbing occasions in The Handmaid’s Story is the brutal execution known as “particicution” — a portmanteau from the phrases “participation’ and “execution.” These merciless particicutions are when handmaids are given free rein to hold out a dying sentence on an unruly handmaid, for instance, by stoning or mass beating.


The Eyes are spies and enforcers who appear to know all the things that’s occurring in Gilead. They’re hardly ever seen, besides once they drive round of their ominous black automobiles. The Eyes are the key police who detect rebellious exercise and ensure it’s punished.

“Beneath His eye” is a phrase you’ll typically hear in The Handmaid’s Story. Used instead of goodbye, its most constructive allusion is to the truth that God is watching, whereas its extra ominous allusion is to the truth that the Eyes are watching.

Unwomen and Gender Traitors

Unwomen are those that are previous, sick, or who’ve dedicated a criminal offense, reminiscent of partaking in same-sex exercise. These final ones are also referred to as Gender Traitors. Unwomen are despatched to work within the polluted, poisonous Colonies—the badlands of Gilead. There, with the publicity to toxins and laborious labor, in addition to lack of medical care, they are going to die.

What does “blessed be the fruit” imply? Understanding Key Phrases and Greetings in The Handmaid’s Story

For those who learn or watch The Handmaid’s Story, you’re going to see or hear lots of the phrase ‘blessed’. From blessed day to blessed night, all residents of Gilead are taught to acknowledge the hand of God in all the things. The founders of Gilead believed that they’d certainly be infinitely blessed because of their return to conventional values. Listed here are some extra of The Handmaid’s Story sayings and their meanings.

Reward be: That is what to say while you’re thankful for one thing, be it the rain or the start of a kid.

Blessed be the fruit: This greeting comes from the phrase “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb” from the guide of Luke within the New Testomony. It’s meant to emphasize what’s most essential in Gilead society and to encourage fertility. Its rejoinder, ‘Might the Lord open’, is in help of fertility.

We’ve been despatched good climate: The epitome of small speak, this phrase is just meant to underline the banal existence of a handmaid. Handmaids have one function solely in Gilead, and it isn’t to have authentic concepts or controversial conversations.

Inspiring Quotes From The Handmaid’s Story

There are such a lot of nice, power-to-the-women one-liners from each the guide and the present. You’re simply going to need to learn it and watch it and hold a listing of your personal! Listed here are some favorites:

“It’s their very own fault. They need to’ve by no means given us uniforms in the event that they didn’t need us to be a military.”

“We’re gonna want a much bigger boat.”

“Now, I’m awake to the world.” 

“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

“After we consider the previous it’s the gorgeous issues we pick. We need to consider it was all like that.”

“I’m not your justification for existence.”

“By no means mistake a lady’s meekness for weak spot.”

Now that you just’re effectively versed in The Handmaid’s Story sayings, go watch the present or learn the guide! And keep tuned for a spin-off primarily based on The Testaments!

Atwood is understood for saying that there isn’t a occasion in any of her books that doesn’t have a precedent in human historical past. So count on extra chilling and close-to-home moments to return.

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