Although The Handmaid’s Tale focuses on Gilead and all the ways he hurts so many people, female characters play the lead role at almost every turn. Serena Joy Waterford is one of the most unique of them for the simple fact that this oppressive regime that denies women all their rights was enthusiastically embraced and even partially engineered by Serena herself.
After Fred’s death and Serena’s blatant betrayal of the country she helped build, it looks like she’s finally got a glimpse of what life is like on the other side of the coin, and no surprise there. , she is not happy about it. Whether Serena will finally change for the better remains to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine her becoming any worse than the person she already is.
“You don’t put bruised apples on top of the crate”
Serena always goes out of her way to present herself as elegant and well-mannered, but there’s a nightmare beneath that veneer. One of Serena’s smallest but most repulsive moments comes in the episode where Gilead negotiates with Mexico for a potential trade deal involving handmaids.
Gilead hosts a lavish gala to “honor” the maids and make them more appealing to Mexicans, but she wants to make sure the maids give off the right image. Therefore, she has Aunt Lydia remove the “damaged”, AKA the girls who have been physically mutilated by Gilead, demonstrating that she views these female victims as little more than a commodity for sale.
Serena’s meeting with Luke
Serena has repeatedly demonstrated that she’s willing to do literally whatever it takes to have a baby, and it seems her decision to let Nichole go to Canada was a momentary error in judgment. Serena begs June to convince Luke to give Serena and Fred one last visit with the baby to say goodbye, but Luke agrees with the caveat that only Serena comes to see Nichole.
During their visit to the Toronto airport, Luke rightly calls out Serena Joy for the freak she is, and Serena responds as only she would, delusional saying she was one of the few people to helping June and vaguely threatening to withdraw that help in the same breath. The implication that June might suffer consequences if Luke was not deferential to Serena in the way she thinks she deserves despite consistently facilitating or perpetrating June’s rape and abuse is unbalanced.
Forcing Nick and June to conceive
Serena seemed to rationalize all of her horrific acts as actions in service of the greater good, and in her mind, there is only one true greater good: babies. Her desperation for a child was frightening, and once it became clear that the problem with having a baby might be with Fred, Serena began looking for solutions in different places.
There are only a few people in the world that Serena can control and command, so she “asks” June and Nick to conceive a child. As Tuello gratefully points out to Serena when she is arrested in Canada, this request is rape in the eyes of any rational person.
The June Imprisonment
After her first few months with the Waterfords, it looks like June may be pregnant, and Serena is clearly over the moon.
That is, until June realized it was just a false alarm. Serena is absolutely furious at the revelation and, after giving June a few unnecessary beatings, banishes June to her room to think about “what she did”. The psychological damage that isolation can cause is terrible. Given that June has no control over her reproduction and after what happened to the first Offred, this seems like a particularly sadistic move.
Threatening Hannah the first time
From the moment Serena realized June was pregnant, she didn’t think of this baby as June’s baby. Serena makes this clear in nearly every interaction she has with June, however, the most particularly awful moment that made this crystal clear was when Serena took June to see Hannah.
After June spends years desperately searching for Hannah without success, Serena takes her on a surprise visit to see her from afar without Hannah even knowing her real mother is there. As June desperately begs Serena to spend some time with Hannah, Serena tells June that as long as “her baby” is safe, June’s is too.
Threaten Hannah the second time
Once Serena realized June murdered Fred, she was understandably terrified that June would come looking for her next. And in an attempt to “put June in her place,” Serena orchestrated a massive public funeral for Fred and claimed she had enough power in Gilead to get closer to Hannah.
Serena’s hypocrisy is nothing new, but the fact that she’s so obsessed with children and yet freely uses open threats against a child as leverage against her enemy is awful.
banish june from the house
Serena’s possessiveness over baby Nichole is legitimately frightening. Ms Waterford has repeatedly shown that she will stop at nothing to get what she believes is hers. Therefore, it’s no surprise that once Nichole is born, Serena is brutally controlling and cruel.
Serena never sees Nichole as June’s daughter, but she doesn’t want to risk some sort of mother-daughter bond either. Immediately after June goes through the toughest job imaginable, Serena banishes June from the house with the intention that June will never see Nichole again.
Realistically, anyone who managed to rise through the ranks of Gilead probably deserves to die. Commander Cushing seemed like a particularly awful weasel, so there’s no great loss in losing him.
But when Commander Cushing investigates the Red Center bombing and makes it clear that he doesn’t believe June was taken against her will, it seems the whole Waterford house is in trouble. With Fred out of commission, it gets worse and worse. Therefore, Serena does what comes naturally to her and forces Cushing to take the fall, which almost certainly resulted in her death.
Abandoning Fred to the Canadians
Sometimes people end up doing the right thing for the wrong reason, as is the case with Serena handing Fred over to the Canadian and US governments to be prosecuted. The possibility of Fred facing justice is beautiful, but Serena was more than happy to participate or abet his war crimes when it brought her closer to having a baby.
In this case, she was doing the exact same thing, except throwing Fred to the wolves was just her way of leveraging what she had so she could get back into the life of the baby she kidnapped.
Forget that Nichole exists
Serena has put many people through unimaginable pain to have “her daughter” Nichole, and while June paid the price, it’s incomprehensible how much Serena’s desire to have a baby has negatively affected the world around her. surrounds it.
And, the minute she found out she was expecting her own biological child, Nichole essentially ceased to exist in Serena’s mind. Obviously, it’s in Nichole’s best interest, but it shows just how terrible Serena really is. She claimed to love Nichole more than anything and justified many horrors based on that claim, but her sincere attachment to Nichole as a person rather than an object to uplift Serena was completely non-existent.
Stirring up a fascist theocratic movement in the United States
Serena Joy has done a lot of horrible things, but it’s hard to top what she’s generally done to the world by promoting her misogynistic and religious fascism to the masses. As Moira so eloquently put it, Serena is the true gender traitor.
When the human population was on the verge of collapse, Serena promoted the ideologies that fueled the creation of Gilead and reduced the women of the world to nothing more than baby-makers. Once so many people started to suffer under her ideas, she didn’t pay attention, only caring about when those ideologies finally started to hurt her too.
Fueling a Theocratic Fascist Movement in Canada
One of the most disturbing aspects of The Handmaid’s Tale’s focus on Canada in recent seasons is the support that seems to exist there for Gilead and for people like Serena.
And again, Serena’s outrageous hypocrisy strikes again, as she sets out on a new mission to convert Canadian believers into a Gilead-like society, and she doesn’t shy away from completely twisting the realities of Gilead so to sell it to the masses. She exploits the utterly misplaced trust her followers have in her to put them in a position where she knows they will suffer, and of course she still sees herself as the exception to any rules that will be used to punish everything. the world. around her.
The last ceremony
Serena’s abusive nature is obvious to anyone watching, but arguably her most brutal behavior came during “the last ceremony.” When June doesn’t deliver what Serena thinks is her baby according to her schedule, she gets angry and wants to punish June. She and Fred feel like June is forgetting her place, so they decide to call her back.
Serena and Fred come up with the most gruesome means of punishment possible. Under the guise of “helping” the baby come naturally, Fred and Serena rape her again. However, this time June isn’t just waiting for it to be over. When June retaliates, Serena holds her for Fred.
His false remorse
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Serena as a character is that she sometimes shows enough insight to understand the gravity of her actions, and sometimes she even displays a kind of remorse, but that heartache never lasts long.
Her behaviors and choices would be unforgivable anyway, but there’s something exceptionally repugnant about the fact that she understands all the horrors she’s imposed on the world, and yet she continues to do so. She only seems to have regrets when her decisions have a negative effect on her, and she truly feels entitled to exploit and abuse people for her own gain.
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The Handmaid’s Tale: 14 times Serena Joy Waterford was the worst person on earth | Pretty Reel
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