What is the main character's name in The Handmaid's Tale?
Explores the complexity of characters and their relationships with each other and the world around them. The characters are often used to highlight the themes of oppression, power, and control. Characters are often used to draw attention to the consequences of the world order and its effect on individuals.
Characterization in The Handmaid's Tale
Patriarchy: a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property. Hierarchy: a system in which members of a group or organization are ranked according to relative status or authority. Theocracy: a form of government in which a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, or a form of government in which priests rule in the name of a god or deity.
Brain break: Draw the birthmobile.
the novel’s protagonist and first-person narrator Handmaid of the Commander and Serena Joy, former wife of Luke, and lover of Nick we never learn her real name (Offred means “Of Fred,” her Commander) we know little about her physical appearance she has brown hair, stands about five foot seven, and is 33 years old
before Gilead, she had a daughter with Luke at about age 25 Moira was her best friend from college, and she had a rocky relationship with her radical, outrageous mother though Offred is rebellious, even violent, in her thoughts, and full of passionate memories, she seems stolid and devout to outsiders, doing her best to obey Gilead’s laws WHY???
readers may be quick to judge Offred for her passivity but her keen observations and honest emotions, even after the terror and brainwashing that she’s encountered, demonstrate the limitations of Gilead’s power over its subjects Evidence????
The Commander (Fred)
the head of the household where Offred serves as a Handmaid, and husband of Serena Joy. the Commander has gray hair, wears a black suit, and looks “like a Midwestern bank president.” though he is a high-ranking official of Gilead who may have played a large role in its construction, he breaks many laws, including going to the sex club Jezebel’s (and at least once hiring Moira), and spending time with Offred
Brain break: Draw the Commander and Offred playing Scrabble.
The Commander (Fred)
though he attributes many of his misogynistic attitudes to “Nature,” he cares for Offred’s well being often wants to know her opinion on controversial matters. WHY? Evidence?
Who is the protagonist in The Handmaid's Tale?
- Aunt Lydia
- Commander Waterford
Which character represents the oppressive regime in Gilead?
Which character embodies resistance and rebellion against Gilead?
What role does Serena Joy play in the story?
- Commander Waterford's Wife
Moira (The Bestie)
Offred’s best friend in college, a brave, opinionated feminist lesbian whom Offred encounters again at the Rachel and Leah Center after one failed attempt, she manages to escape the Center and move along the Underground Femaleroad, but the Eyes capture and torture her
Moira (The Bestie)
she decides to work as a prostitute rather than go to the Colonies (the Colonies are essentially a death sentence) when Offred sees her at Jezebel’s, it seems that the authorities have managed to break Moira’s spirit Evidence?
the Commander’s Wife, she is unable to have children and therefore requires Offred’s services before Gilead, she was a singer who became famous on TV for her emotional Christian music she used to give speeches about how women ought to be housewives Ironic? Why?
during the novel, she occupies her time gardening with Nick’s help, and knitting elaborate scarves for soldiers, despite her arthritis for much of the novel, she resentfully ignores Offred towards the end she encourages Offred to try to get pregnant by having sex with Nick Why? Again, ironic?
What are some of the ways in which the society depicted in The Handmaid's Tale is similar and different from our own society?
What did you think was the most effective way that the author portrayed characterization in The Handmaid's Tale?
How does the characterization of the main characters in The Handmaid's Tale reflect the values and attitudes of the society they live in?
What do you think the author was trying to say about society through the characterization in The Handmaid's Tale?
Question: In The Handmaid's Tale, how does the author effectively convey the characterization of the protagonist? Clues: • Think about the protagonist's expressions, thoughts, dialogue and actions. • Pay attention to the protagonist's relationship with other characters in the book. • Look at how the protagonist's characterization changes throughout the story. In pairs: Select and solve one of the tasks: A. Your group will create a drawing that depicts how the protagonist is characterized. B. Your group will write a speech from the protagonist's perspective that explains why they have changed over the course of the novel.
Work together in pairs: What themes and motifs does Margaret Atwood use to characterize Offred and other characters in The Handmaid's Tale?