In the novel The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood, the character of Moira rarely appears in the main storyline, but rather, her character is brought out through the many flashbacks of the protagonist, Offred. She is shown to us to be a rebellious, intelligent and perseverant person though these visions of the past. She is an important person to Offred, not only because they were friends before the formation of Gilead, but because Offred sees her as a sort of role model someone she would wish to be like.
In the novel, Atwood uses Moira as a symbol of the human spirit and the resistance to the flawed Gileaden society, she stands for things condemned by the government and even though of her failures she keeps trying to break free. However, when she does make an appearance in the main story, we see her working at Jezebel's and that her old resilience and defiance is lost and that she has now accepted that she is trapped in the system and that there is no escape. The purpose of Moira's failure in escaping is perhaps to show the effects the totalitarian system has one ones personality and spirit.
The first thing one notices about Moira is her unruly nature and her openly skeptic view of Gilead. She denies the reality of the films used to denounce the pre-Gilead era. She mocks the hymn There's a Balm in Gilead by calling it There's a Bomb in Gilead and comes to the Centre wearing jeans a symbol of the immoral times before the founding of Gilead. Moira had decided to prefer women, and had continued holding her lesbian ideology in a country in which homosexuality was punishable by death. To justify the legitimacy of homosexuality she says that it makes the balance of power equal between women, so sex was an even-steven transaction , and this sort of rationality in Moira is often spoken about by Offred who sees Moira as being very intelligent and always more logical than I am.
[...] Throughout the novel she never makes any informed decisions to break the rules she declines the doctors offer to help her conceive a child, and she doesn't join Ofglen and the resistance. The only times she attempts to break the rules is when she is forced to by others when the Commander takes her out, and when Nick helps her escape. During these experiences she looks to Moira, and her actions. She thinks “What would she [Moira] tell me, about the commander, if she were Moira's opinion still matters to her. [...]
[...] The first thing one notices about Moira is her unruly nature and her openly skeptic view of Gilead. She denies the reality of the films used to denounce the pre-Gilead era. She mocks the hymn “There's a Balm in Gilead” by calling it “There's a Bomb in Gilead” and comes to the Centre wearing jeans a symbol of the immoral times before the founding of Gilead. Moira had “decided to prefer women”, and had continued holding her lesbian ideology in a country in which homosexuality was punishable by death. [...]
[...] The incident in which a Wife stabbed her Husband's handmaid with a knitting needle shows this animosity. In this context, where there is mistrust and envy between women, Moira's and Offred's friendship is therefore very significant because it advocates some of the feminist ideals Atwood tries to get across, and because of its setting in Gilead, where there is not only inequality between men and women but there is also inequality between women One of the major themes Moira represents in the book is the human spirit and its resilience. [...]
[...] Her attitude to society and her rebellious nature is intriguing to Offred to whom she serves as a foil. She guides her forward and therefore guides the plot forward. Atwood uses her to represent perseverance and the struggle for freedom, but also how the totalitarian society can crush ones determination for independence, and can force anyone into submission. [...]
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