The Handmaid's Tale- Characters Analysis


Offred (Protagonist)

Offred is the homodigetic narrator of the story; her importance lays in the fact she represents the oppression of woman in society. Her individual thoughts on reflecting to the past and how it compares to her situation now, demonstrates that freedom is lost. Unlike typical elements of dystopia fiction, Offred is not a herione. In fact, she would rather keep on the good side--purely to do with the fact there are Eyes, and informers who could prey on her speaking her opinion out. At times, she can be rebellious, meeting Nick without Serena Joy's knowledge and the several thoughts of stealing but she does not go as far as minor characters like Ofglen who join the resistance. And in fact, if Offred hadn't left in the van at the end of the novel, she would be happily content to remain seeing Nick. We never know Offred's name which is to do with control--she wants something that isn't taken away from her. In her past, she was Luke's mistress and they had a daughter together that she eventually finds out is adopted into the society. As for the men that she influence her life; Luke, Nick and the Commander although her relationships with them are different, eerily enough they are in fact similar. Precisely, the fact that their illict sexual relationships all begin in the same location: hotel. And the control. Take Nick's unwavering persistence to keep moving his feet closer towards Offred before the ceremony (he was not at all respecting the boundary- a risk for Offred), then there is Luke who has power over her with the loss of her job, and then the Commander which needs no explanation. 

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The Commander

The Commander is an example of how even those who create the dystopia society, are in fact, those who do not comply. His example would be the fact, he visits Jezebels. Something that is strongly destested yet a contradiction. Not only that but he punishes Offred in a cruel and incredibly dangerous way by his selfish desire to spend the several nights with her; his wife has no clue, and he encourages healthy reading and writing that a Handmaid cannot do. Another questionable act. The relationship between Offred and the Commander do change; the awkwardness at the ceremony, and eventually the hotel sex. Correctly, you can laugh at this. A mockery to men. His relationship with Serena Joy lacks affection and arguably through Offred's narrative, she wonders who is more worse off: herself or Serena? As for The Commander, he is also the creator to the foundations of Gilead and therefore Offred's agent of oppression.  And as Offred comes to understand; The Commander has in fact created his own prison than just to women. 

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Serena Joy

The sad truth about Serena Joy who is most likely to have been adapted from the likes of real-life anti-women's rights activists, Phyllis Schlafly, is those who campaigned for this type of dystopia society have in fact become oppressed themselves. Serena for one must endure the fact that she cannot bear children and watch as another woman shares something that should be a intitmate act between a man and woman. She is generalised by uniform of her own: blue. Serena has no control otherthan what Offred comments on, is the front room before the ceremony where she likes the Commander to knock before entering. As for efforts with Offred, she is cruel and manipulative--this is the case with the arrangment of Nick and controversional again--places Offred in a dangerous position knowing it not but the woman's fault for reproduction. Serena wears Lillies of the Valley, cleverly relating to the reproductivity, natural world a flower represents; Serena however is unable to have children and is a decaying reminder from her need to bask herself with elements of the natural world. 

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Moira is a key example of someone who resists, but also represents that those strong-minded and powerful can be destroyed, and shrink to vulnerability. As the protagonist's best-friend throughout college and a lesbian, Moira's story as told by Offred is a sad disappointment as it is a shock how defeated she has become at their second encounter at Jezebels. Moira at the beginning especially with her escape from the Red Centre has the adaptations of a heroine trying to scrap out of a dystopia society but just like how damaging the society can be, it is able to break her down. Offred, throughout the novel refers back to Moira, admiring her traits, confidence and sees her in particular at the Red Centre, a element of hope. 

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Nick plays a important role during in which Offred has to visit the Commander and their rendezvous over Serena's desire for a child. As a character, Nick, appeals to Offred and she finds herself especially when they sleep together, rebelling and forgetting fear as she desires touch. He also, strikes as completely more bold and a daring character compared to other guardians with his 'winks' towards Offred, the act of touch before the ceremony and the kiss he shares when Offred attempts to steal the decaying flower. It is therefore, we believe most likely that he a part of the Mayday Movement but we cannot be certain--he could just be as good as informer. 

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Luke is Offred's husband, initially her lover that he regularly cheated on with at hotels. Together, eventually he leaves his wife and enters marriage with Offred, conceiving a daugther. As a character, we find him very loveable, a great companion and light-humoured especially with his interactions with Offred's Mother. But just like any other man over undermining the importance of a woman's freedom, he portrays typical attitudes when Offred has lost her job, and tries in solution, sex. As for his whereabouts, like Offred, we do not know. Offred dwells on her relationship wondering where he is and if he is even alive. He also acts as her source of inital guilt when sleeping with Nick. 

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Cora and Rita

These two characters although minor have a lot much more personal freedom over their interactions in the kicthen and free dicussions between one another. As for Rita, she is rude, discontent character that rarely exchanges well with Offred. Cora, however, is much more sympathetic and important over the fact she hides up the matter when she finds Offred asleep in the wardrobe when arguably she should have informed the household. Cora desires to have a child and towards the end of the novel, Offred feels she has let down her knowing she won't be providing that. 

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Aunt Lydia

Aunt Lydia plays a important role in brainwashing the women over their jobs as sacred vessels to the reproduction of the world. We see her throughout Offred's flashbacks but also events during the Salvagings take place. As a character, she is very much fully incorporated into Gilead society. 

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