Characters

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is narrated by the main character, who is known as Offred in Gilead, and who was probably called June in her former life. Before the revolution, she had a job, a husband named Luke, and a child. After Gilead took over, her daughter was taken from her and she was forced to become a Handmaid: a woman used to have children by government officials. 

The Commander is another key character. He is the government official in whose home Offred has been placed. He shows Offred the illegal and corrupt side of the system he has helped to create. His wife, Serena Joy, dislikes Offred, but she is desperate for a child, so she is also willing to break the rules. She arranges for Offred to have an affair with the chauffeur, Nick, in the hope that Offred will get pregnant. 

Other characters in the novel include Aunt Lydia (who “trained” the handmaids), Moira (Offred’s friend from before the revolution), and Offred’s husband Luke. Offred’s relationship to many of these characters develops throughout the novel.

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