Margaret Atwood Quotes

Who the Hell is Margaret Atwood?

Margaret Eleanor Atwood is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, teacher, environmental activist, and inventor. Atwood is best known for her book The Handmaid's Tale which was made into a TV series.

Born November 18, 1939

Books by Margaret Atwood


Best 58 Quotes by Margaret Atwood

“A home filled with nothing but yourself. It's heavy, that lightness. It's crushing, that emptiness.”

Margaret Atwood
The Tent

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

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“A word after a word after a word is power.”

Margaret Atwood

“And yet it disturbs me to learn I have hurt someone unintentionally. I want all my hurts to be intentional.”

Margaret Atwood
Cat's Eye

“Another belief of mine; that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”

Margaret Atwood
Cat's Eye

“Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse, for some.”

Margaret Atwood
The 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.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

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

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“For if the world treats you well, Sir, you come to believe you are deserving of it.”

Margaret Atwood
Alias Grace

“Forgiving men is so much easier than forgiving women.”

Margaret Atwood
Cat's Eye

“How could I be sleeping with this particular man? Surely only true love could justify my lack of taste.”

Margaret Atwood
Lady Oracle

“I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“I don’t know whether there are any really pretty novels. All of the motives a human being may have, which are mixed, that’s the novelists’ material. We like to think of ourselves as really, really good people. But look in the mirror. Really look. Look at your own mixed motives. And then multiply that.”

Margaret Atwood

“I knew what love was supposed to be: obsession with undertones of nausea.”

Margaret Atwood
Cat's Eye

“I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most.”

Margaret Atwood

“I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.”

Margaret Atwood

“If he wants to be an asshole, it's a free country. Millions before him have made the same life choice.”

Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake

“If I love you, is that a fact or a weapon?”

Margaret Atwood
Power Politics

“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.”

Margaret Atwood
Alias Grace

“If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next—if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions—you'd be doomed. You'd be ruined as God. You'd be a stone. You'd never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. You'd never love anyone, ever again. You'd never dare to.”

Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin

“If you’re put on a pedestal you’re supposed to behave like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.”

Margaret Atwood

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“In the end, we'll all become stories.”

Margaret Atwood
Moral Disorder

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

Margaret Atwood
Bluebeard's Egg

“It's impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because of what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavors, in the air or on the tongue, half-colors, too many.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.”

Margaret Atwood
Cat's Eye

“Knowing was a temptation. What you don't know won't tempt you.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It's like the tide going out, revealing whatever's been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future.”

Margaret Atwood
Cat's Eye

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

Margaret Atwood

“Men often ask me, 'Why are your female characters so paranoid?' It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”

Margaret Atwood

“Never pray for justice, because you might get some.”

Margaret Atwood
Cat's Eye

“Nobody dies from the lack of sex. It's lack of love we die from.”

Margaret Atwood

“Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you'd be boiled to death before you knew it.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here.’ Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.”

Margaret Atwood

“Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.”

Margaret Atwood

“People cry at weddings for the same reason they cry at happy endings: because they so desperately want to believe in something they know is not credible.”

Margaret Atwood

“People will do anything rather than admit that their lives have no meaning. No use, that is. No plot.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”

Margaret Atwood

“Potential has a shelf life.”

Margaret Atwood
Cat's Eye

“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”

Margaret Atwood
Surfacing

“The best way of keeping a secret is to pretend there isn't one.”

Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin

“The Eskimo has fifty-names for snow because it is important to them; there ought to be as many for love.”

Margaret Atwood

“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.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”

Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin

“There is more than one kind of freedom. Freedom to and freedom from.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“To want is to have a weakness.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“War is what happens when language fails.”

Margaret Atwood

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”

Margaret Atwood
The Penelopiad

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.”

Margaret Atwood

“What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question.”

Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood

“When I was young I believed that nonfiction meant true. But you read a history written in, say, 1920 and a history of the same events written in 1995 and they’re very different. There may not be one Truth—there may be several truths—but saying that is not to say that reality doesn’t exist.”

Margaret Atwood

“When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

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

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“You can think clearly only with your clothes on.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“You can't help what you feel, but you can help how you behave.”

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale

“You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.”

Margaret Atwood
The Testaments

“You know the myth: Everybody had to fit into Procrustes’ bed and if they didn’t, he either stretched them or cut off their feet. I’m not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain point of view.”

Margaret Atwood