The Handmaid's Tale

Moira as a Foil in The Handmaid's Tale 12th Grade

In literature, a foil character is utilized by authors to, through contrast of the characters, highlight the characteristics of the protagonist. In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale, Moira is the college friend of Offred and represents Offred’s hope in contrast to her bleak situation in Gilead. Moira is independent and rebellious, where, in comparison, Offred seems weak and complacent. While Moira keeps Offred strong and gives her hope in Gilead, she also eventually represents Offred’s loss of hope. Through Moira, Offred’s strengths and weaknesses are highlighted, as well as the themes of rebellion, autonomy, identity, and hope in a dystopian society.

Before analysis of any of Offred’s interactions with Moira, conclusions can be drawn just from the way the characters are presented by Offred. As the narrator, Offred has the choice to present herself and those around her however she wants. In Gilead, women are stripped of their ability to choose their partners, the ability to dress as they please, and even their names, stripping them of their autonomy in almost every way. Throughout the story, Offred refers to herself only as Offred, a name given to her when she was assigned to her commander, meaning “of Fred.” Her real name...

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