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Cigarettes

by sidlaecarg, October 15, 2013

191 out of 198 people found this helpful

Offred's thoughts about cigarettes in her new life and the memory of smoking them in her old provides another symbol for control of women's bodies and choices in the Gilead regime. She is a former smoker, but her cigarettes are taken away from her along with many other freedoms when she becomes a handmaid. Offred can no longer smoke because this might harm any children she has yet to bear, though she still yearns for another cigarette whenever she sees one. Offred yearns for the freedoms her old life had to offer. Gilead's removal of cigarettes shows it valuing any pre-born children it might have over the freedoms of its current citizens, particularly women. Offred's smoking habits were unhealthy and a negative side-effect of freedom, but she enjoyed before Gilead because she had the right to affect her body in any positive or negative way she pleased; therefore, smoking in the novel represents the good and bad sides to freedom, "freedom to and freedom from."

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