GradeSaver(tm) ClassicNotes The Handmaid's Tale
Home : The Handmaid's Tale : Study Guide : Character List

The Handmaid's Tale Characters

by Margaret Atwood

Character List

Offred

The narrator of The Handmaid's Tale, Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, but she can remember the time "before", when she was married to Luke and had a daughter.

Ofglen

Offred's partner for shopping and other "acceptable activities". She is a member of an underground resistance organization, Mayday. When she is caught, she kills herself before she can be taken prisoner. Another woman is sent to replace her, assuming her name and erasing her existence.

Moira

Offred's best friend from "before", Moira is active in the feminist movement. Offred and Moira wind up in the same training center, but Moira escapes twice, the second time permanently.

Luke

Offred's husband before the inception of the Republic of Gilead. He left and divorced his first wife for Offred, which ultimately allowed the Republic to declare their union illegal, and gave the government the right to take their child.

Aunt Sara

One of the older, infertile women who agree to watch over and train the Handmaids rather than be sent to a Colony.

Aunt Elizabeth

One of the older, infertile women who agree to watch over and train the Handmaids rather than be sent to a Colony. Aunt Elizabeth now presides over births.

The Angels

The members of the army of the Republic of Gilead.

Janine

Another handmaid who Offred meets at the training center. She embraces the new regime out of fear, but threatens to become unhinged several times over the course of the novel. Eventually, she becomes known as "Ofwarren".

Aunt Lydia

The most powerful of the Aunts, Aunt Lydia was in charge of the re-education program, and now presides over some of the Salvagings.

Rita

The "Martha" in Offred's placement. She is safe as long as she is physically able to do the cooking and cleaning.

Cora

A "Martha" like Rita, but lower-ranked. She is Martha's assistant.

Serena Joy

Offred's Commander's wife. She used to be a singer on a television bible show, and later became a public advocate for women's return to the home.

Nick

One of the Guardians assigned to Offred's household. His principal responsibilities are taking care of the car and driving members of the household wherever they need to go.

The Eyes

The wing of the new government responsible for surveillance, espionage, and the detection of spies, unsuitables, and criminals.

Mother

Offred's mother, who is never named. She was active in the earlier feminist movement that secured women the right to have jobs, remain unmarried, and get abortions - all rights that have been taken away under the current regime.

Aunt Helena

One of the Aunts who come to the training center only for Testifying. She used to run a Weight Watchers' franchise in Iowa, making her an ideal candidate for Testifying.

Dolores

One of the women at the training center.

Angela

Janine's (or Ofwarren's) baby girl, who later turns out to be an "unbaby".

Alma

A woman in the Center with Offred.

Ofcharles

One of the women killed at the salvaging.

Professor Maryann Crescent Moon

A woman 150 years in the future who studies Caucasian Anthropology and is running the conference where Offred's tapes are being presented.

Professor Pieixoto

The keynote speaker at the Twelfth Symposium of the Gileadean Research Association, co-discoverer of Offred's tapes. He speaks about the "Problems of Authentication in Reference to The Handmaid's Tale.

Professor Knotly Wade

Co-discoverer of the Offred tapes.

Wilfred Limpkin

A sociobiologist present at the Sons of Jacob meetings, who wrote an account of them in cipher in his diary.

Frederick R. Waterford

The most likely candidate for Offred's commander.

B. Frederick Judd

Another possible candidate for Offred's Commander.

The Handmaid's Tale Essays and Related Content