Serena Joy is the most powerful female presence in the hierarchy of Gileadean women; she is the central character in the dystopian novel, signifying the foundation for the Gileadean regime. Atwood uses Serena Joy as a symbol for the present dystopian society, justifying why the society of Gilead arose and how its oppression had infiltrated the lives of unsuspecting people. Atwood individualises the character of Serena Joy, as her high status in the society demands power and the domination over the inferior members of the Commander’s household, such as Offred a€“ a handmaid.
This shows that Serena Joy has a sense of control, using this privilege to become “a woman who might bend the rules”; this is similar to the Commander, as Serena Joy is able to associate herself with the black market, for example “exchanging trade” for relics of the past such as cigarettes. Through the black market, Atwood suggests that Serena Joy is a representation of a society based on a biblical view, thriving to become pure and perfect on the surface, yet the powerful figures that should exemplify obedience to the rules are constantly exploiting their authority.Additionally, the presentation of Serena Joy as a character it made interesting by her contradiction of accepting the new-found Gileadean society; it is plain that she resents the arrangement of having a handmaid in the house keenly as a violation of her marriage; “My husband. I want that to be clear.Order now
Till death do us part”. Also, having a handmaid is a continual reminder of her crippled condition to not have children, and her fading feminine charms during her youth.Atwood demonstrates a sense of hatred and jealousy within Serena Joy, which is directed towards Offred as she is unintentionally an intruder and is invading Serena Joy’s private life. Eventually, this jealousy enables Serena Joy to try to obliviate Offred by “fixing it up with Nick”.
Also, Serena Joy indicates that she is willing to “help” Offred by showing her a “picture”, “something you want”.However, all these actions are a result of Serena Joy’s self-interest and her manipulative personality, “there’s a hint of her former small-screen mannequin’s allure, flickering over her face like momentary static”. Consequently, Atwood highlights Serena Joy’s “roguish” actions caused by jealousy and a desire for revenge upon the very person who has been deprived her of possession of the Commander; she deliberately withheld the news of Offred’s lost daughter and the photograph that Offred has been longing for.Atwood’s creation of Serena Joy and the presentation of her character are interesting, as Serena Joy emerges with natural power and a high status from her previous life as a media personality.
Serena Joy has an aura of charismatic characteristics, which she used to present speeches about the “sanctity of the home, about how women should stay at home”. Yet this is another contradiction of Serena Joy’s acceptance of Gileadean society, as “she doesn’t make speeches anymore.She has become speechless”, because “she stays in her home, but it doesn’t seem to agree with her”. Therefore, Atwood constructs a form of inner rebellion within Serena Joy, to be individual and different from the other women in society; “how furious she must be, now that she’s been taken at her word”.
Likewise, Atwood’s portrayal of “Serena Joy” as a name is equivalent to her fame and glory; however, it is also a faA§ade that conceals her true character only to encourage more popularity. “Serena Joy was never her real name, not even then.Her real name was Pam”. This is an interesting factor about the presentation of Serena Joy as it is a contrast; Serena Joy is neither “serene” nor “joyful”, it was a creation a€“ “Serena Joy it would say on the bottle, with a woman’s head in cut-paper silhouette on a pink oval background with scalloped gold edges”, to promote a celebrity reputation.
However, “Serena Joy” may have been a “somewhat malicious invention by our author Offred”, resulting in spiteful sarcasm towards the Commander’s wife.Similarly, Atwood also emphasises a sense of self-promotion in creating Serena Joy, as she craves attention, “though many people said she’d put the bomb in her own car for sympathy”. Yet, with the sudden transformation of society, Serena Joy’s past glory has been fragmented and forgotten as she is now considered a “defeated woman” and “the have been unable to bear children”, a comment remarked by Aunt Lydia. Nevertheless, Atwood presents Serena Joy’s character with subtlety as she is helpless and resorts to accusing Offred for her loss of love from the Commander, “I trusted you, I tried to help you”, “Behind my back.
You could have left me something”. Offred says that, “I was taking away something from her, although she didn’t know it”, demeaning Serena joy’s power and superiority. Through Serena Joy’s loss, Atwood demonstrates the harsh and bitter reality of Gileadean society and the fact that all members within the society were affected and had to suffer. Atwood’s intention through Serena Joy is to warn today’s society that in order to survive hardship, people have to be united and equality and freedom are essential in human life.
Through Atwood’s creation of Gilead, she clearly shows the critical friction between various groups of people, such as the handmaids and the wives. Offred remembers her feminist mother, “You wanted a woman’s culture. Well, now there is one. This isn’t what you meant, but it exists.
Be thankful for small mercies”. Atwood creates a world of corruption and unease; there is oppression and it has perceptibly infiltrated the lives of unsuspecting people, and Serena Joy is one of them.