The Handmaid’s Tale


Margaret Atwood

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Themes and Colors
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Religion and Theocracy Theme Icon
Fertility Theme Icon
Rebellion Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Storytelling and Memory Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Handmaid’s Tale, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Love Theme Icon

Despite Offred’s general passivity in the face of the oppressive society, she has a deep and secret source of strength: her love. Though love might keep Offred complacent, permitting her to daydream rather than to rebel outright, it’s also responsible for the book’s greatest triumph, as love drives Nick to help Offred escape, which she manages more effectively than Moira or Ofglen. Her love for her mother, her daughter, Luke, Moira, and ultimately Nick, allow her to stay sane, and to live within her memories and emotions instead of the terrible world around her. Although the novel never proposes an ideal society or a clear way to apply its message to the real world, and although the novel looks critically both on many modern movements, including the religious right and the extreme feminist left, love—both familial and romantic—surprisingly turns out to be the most effective force for good.

Love is also a driving force behind other characters’ actions. We know that Nick reciprocates Offred’s feelings, but also the search for love, in the form of a real, not purely functional human connection, influences the Commander’s desires to bend the rules for Offred. In the end, love is the best way to get around Gilead’s rules, as it allows for both secret mental resistance, and for the trust and risk that result in Offred’s great escape.

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Love Quotes in The Handmaid’s Tale

Below you will find the important quotes in The Handmaid’s Tale related to the theme of Love.
Chapter 9 Quotes

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

Related Characters: Offred (speaker)
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

But this is wrong, nobody dies from lack of sex. It’s lack of love we die from.

Related Characters: Offred (speaker)
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 28 Quotes

He doesn’t mind this, I thought. He doesn’t mind it at all. Maybe he even likes it. We are not each other’s, anymore. Instead, I am his.

Related Characters: Offred (speaker), Luke
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 40 Quotes

All I can hope for is a reconstruction: the way love feels is always only approximate.

Related Characters: Offred (speaker)
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 46 Quotes

And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.

Related Characters: Offred (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Eye
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis: