Theater of Cruelty

Captured freedom

The theme of freedom goes back to the writing of Margaret Atwood, in which she portrays the lives of men and women living in prison – metaphorically and literally. Her lyrics have made a big impression on me at a time when my freedom has been reduced to my own will.


Canadian Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) is the award-winning author of international bestseller The Handmaid's Tale ([1985], Norwegian title The Handmaid's Tale [1987, translated by Merete Alfsen], ed.). After Donald Trump's election victory, the 2017 gained new wind in the sails, including a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning television series. The news is due to the relevant content, with themes such as sexual harassment and abortion rights. Throughout fifty years of writing, freedom, or the lack of freedom, has been a central theme for Atwood.

The TV series reached its second season in 2018, and the third season is coming this year, along with the long-awaited sequel of The Handmaid's Tale – The Testaments [novel published in September, ed. note.]. Tender The Testaments says Atwood himself: "Everything you've asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in. ”

Life as a prison

In the dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale she writes of the maid Offred, who, rather than exile, has chosen to live as a concubine in a dystopian America, called Gilead, with only one task in life: to produce children: "That has been one of her few freedoms in this repressive state." Offred has limited freedom; she leases her body for nine months without a lease. It's her job and her life.

Atwood writes in the essay We Are Double-Plus Unfree, published in The Guardian September 18, 2015: "The majority of us are double-plus unfree: our 'freedom to' is limited to approved and supervised activities, and our 'freedom from' does not keep us free from a great many Most people in our time have limited freedom, or leisure. Although we have freedom, we live under strict limits set by society.

Offred lives in a metaphorical prison, and this I recognize myself in. Because after being deprived of my freedom to choose myself, I feel trapped. In his essay, Atwood writes: "A prison might be defined as any place you've been put against your will and can't get out of, and where you are entirely at the mercy of the authorities, whoever they may be." This past year I have been living in a prison, since I am forced to stay in Austria with my daughter as long as the child distribution lawsuit is ongoing. My freedom is limited and in order to be happy I have forced myself to find freedom in the limited freedom.

Throughout fifty years of writing, freedom, or the lack of freedom, has been a central theme of Margaret Atwood.

Atwood asks if we are about to turn our entire community into a prison. Society can be considered as severely limiting already; we are forced to live here, and we do not decide for ourselves when we get out of here unless we commit suicide. We are trapped here, but we have the freedom to choose how our stay will be. What should we choose? «The safe cage or the dangerous wild? Comfort, inertia and boredom, or activity, risk and peril? (…) Sometimes the desire for risk leads to boundary-crossing and criminal activity, and sometimes the craving for safety leads to self-imprisonment. ”

Freedom from prison

In the novel Hag-Seed (2016) retelling Atwood William Shakespeare's The Tempest in a prison, where director Felix puts the play together with the prisoners as actors – as a piece in the play, in a novel.

I The Tempest the piece is listed on an island, and i Hag-Seed in a prison. Felix has lost her daughter, just as Shakespeare's Prospero has lost her daughter. The novel is about releasing the spirit of the daughter from Felix's head. "Then the elements be free, and danger you well," Prospero says, releasing Ariel's spirit.

Felix sees her daughter everywhere: "At first he thinks she's not there, and his heart plummets. Then he detects her: She's over by their table, in the gathering shadows. She's waiting by the chess set, ready to resume their lesson. ” Towards the end of the novel, Felix realizes that if Ariel wants to be released, maybe her daughter's spirit wants the same?

I Hag-Seed the freedom of thought is discussed as a constructed prison. We all have the freedom to release our own thoughts. If we can, we can experience freedom from the prison of thought. When I managed to give up the idea of ​​being trapped in Austria, I felt freer, but I was not completely free. My freedom is captured by the authorities.

If the judge decides that I can leave Austria with my daughter – will I be free then? Are you free? Will we ever be completely free? Why do we say "you are free now" to dead people and animals? Do we only become free when we die? For what is freedom? A dream? A Utopia?

Pinar Ciftci
Pinar Ciftci
Ciftci is a journalist and actor.

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