The Handmaid ' s Tale and Serena Joy Essay

Submitted By allligallli
Words: 814
Pages: 4

This extract is at the beginning of the book, and is talking about when Offred first comes to work in the commanders house and her interactions with Serena Joy. The extract is a conversation between the two women, and I feel that it really introduces the difficult relationship between Serena joy and offred, as well as the difficult relationship between all wives and handmaids.

At one point, Offred is looking at Serena Joys face and her general appearance – “Her hair was still blonde, I thought maybe she bleached it, her eyebrows were plucked.” Serena Joy clearly puts effort into her appearance, she dyes her hair and plucks her eyebrows. However, in the entirety of the book the role of the woman is to have a purpose, Handmaids to have babies with, Marthas to cook etc. So why would these women bother to put any effort into their appearance? They’re not viewed as people, they’re viewed as machines, and why should a machine be pretty? This shows the vast difference between the wives and all of the other women in the book, the wives are for show. They don’t really have a purpose, until the Handmaids bare them children, and even then the wives purpose is basically given to them by the Handmaids. Even though Serena Joy puts effort into her appearance and is clearly different to the Handmaids and Marthas, sheis still looked down upon by men. This goes to show that in Gillead, despite the different statuses of women, they are all equally viewed by men.

I think this is ironic because the entire Republic of Gilead needs these women. They need handmaids more than any of the other duties. Without the handmiads Gilead would die out. The fact that they are pretty much the saviours of Gilead yet they are still looked down upon so much, and not treated as people (when they should infact be treated like gods) shows how distorted their society is. It depends on these women for it to carry on, yet they are executed, demeaned, imprisoned and so on.

But it isn’t just the mens treatment of the women which is so cruel, it’s the women to each other as well. When Offred and Serena Joy are speaking, she says to Offred that she “wants to see as little of her as possible.” Also, later on in the extract, Serena Joy tells Offred that “As for my husband, he’s just that. Till death do us part. It’s final.” This seems very protective of Joy. I can empathise with Serena Joy that the situation she is in isn’t very good, but she’s treating Offred as if she is a whore, and is going to steal her husband. Serena Joy is cruel to her probably because she is jealous of the intimacy that Offred shares with her husband, which is something she doesn’t get to experience, even though in reality it should only be her who is experiencing it. Something that I picked up on in this extract, and in fact throughout the entire book…