Serena Joy

Serena Joy

    The Handmaid's Tale

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew Up… religious. Serena was raised in a very traditional sect that preached a return to Biblical ways, where women stayed in the house and men controlled the outside world. Serena was a televangelist in the “old world” before the rise of Gilead.

Living… in a new nation called Gilead, founded on the principles of the Old Testament and enforced by military power and the threat of toxic waste surrounding the cities.

Profession… wife. Under Gilead’s laws, women are restricted to the home. While Serena is married to the Commander, a powerful man in Gilead’s new hierarchy, she still isn’t allowed to keep her old position as a public figure.

Interests… knitting endless scarves with children on them. She’s not allowed to do much else other than keep house – she’s not even allowed to sing the gospel songs she used to be popular for.

Relationship Status… married to the Commander, but forced to be present for “The Ceremony,” in which her husband has sex with a Handmaiden. All sex is supposed to be procreative in Gilead, and Serena has been declared sterile, so the couple must attempt to have children in a somewhat… roundabout fashion.

Challenge… living with getting what you asked for. Though Serena preached that women should live as housewives, now that Gilead makes it mandatory, she isn’t enjoying herself very much. It makes it worse that the Handmaiden, Offred, is living in her house, constantly reminding Serena of her infertility and powerlessness.

Personality… selfish and frustrated. Serena hates the circumstances of her life, but she takes it out on others rather than accepting partial blame. She also has a cunning side, able to find out information that she shouldn’t have access to, and use it to manipulate people. She takes some small pleasure in using what power she has.


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