Eleanor Lawrence is a recurring character in the second and third seasons of the TV series. She is the Wife of Commander Joseph Lawrence, to whom Emily and later June are assigned as Handmaids.



She is an older woman with dark brown hair. She is petite and seemingly fragile.


According to her husband, she wanted "everything to be beautiful"[1]. It is believed that she has bipolar disorder because of the medication she needed.


In the pastEdit

Before GileadEdit

Back in college, Joseph wooed to Eleanor via mixtape[2]. She later becomes an art professor[1].

Eleanor wanted to have children with Joseph before Gilead, though he did not want to[3].

In the present, Season Two Edit


Eleanor enters when Emily is getting ready for bed. She tells her that her husband is responsible for the dreaded Colonies. Commander Lawrence comes to take her away but she tells him that she hates him. He locks her back in her room.

The Word Edit

Eleanor witnesses her husband leading Emily out of the house in the dead of night, and Joseph pleads with her to go back to bed and stay out of the situation. She calls after Emily and tells her it was nice to know her.

In the present, Season Three Edit

Mary and Martha Edit

When June returns home, she finds Aunt Lydia sitting in the parlor with the Lawrences. The Commander describes to her the recent Ceremony as "aces" before escorting Eleanor out. Aunt Lydia, suspicious of Commander Lawrence, reminds June to report anything “unseemly”.

At the Lawrence home, Alison suddenly shows up with an injured Martha and they hide her in the basement, but the Guardians that shot her are close behind. An incensed Commander Lawrence calls Cora a "liar" as she excuses the noise in the basement by the sighting of a rat. He orders June to fix things. As he makes to let the Guardians in, June realizes that the woman’s blood is on the wall. As Mrs. Lawrence takes over the job of cleaning up, June returns downstairs. The Guardians eventually leave, but the woman dies and is buried behind the house. Mrs. Lawrence plants flowers on the dead Martha's grave.

Unknown Caller Edit

Mrs. Lawrence remarks to June that when she phoned Luke it was important that “the love came through” — like it did when Joseph wooed her via mixtape in college. She also mentions that she’s still got all of these tapes in the basement.

Under His EyeEdit

June convinces Mrs. Lawrence to go on a walk, in which they walk to Hannah's school in Brookline. When Mrs. Lawrence asks to have a tour, she is promptly let in while June is locked out.

Back at the gate, Mrs. Lawrence remonstrates with the Guardians, claiming that she was promised a tour of the school. June returns with two Guardians. One of the Guardians tells June that she won’t stop talking about the children. June explains that Mrs. Lawrence is confused and has health issues. She apologizes for taking advantage of her and leads her home.

Back at the Lawrence household, Commander Lawrence gently leads his wife to her room. Mrs. Lawrence apologizes to June, calling her "Ofjoseph." Commander Lawrence gently helps his wife into bed and removes her shoes. June tells Commander Lawrence she had no intention of putting Mrs. Lawrence in danger, adding that she came alive during their walk.


When Commander Lawrence asks June to spend more time with his wife since she's "good for her", she gruffly blames the world that he built to be destroying his wife, adding that by keeping her "hostage" instead of taking her out of Gilead he is actually killing her.

Witness Edit

June learns from Beth the Marthas' network won’t be able to get any more black market mood-stabilizing medicine for Mrs. Lawrence, who is getting worse.

Upstairs, Eleanor and Joseph argue loudly. She kicks him out of her room and he retreats to his study; June follows him and notices that most of the books have been stuffed here before urging him to "get a truck, get her out, and get her the help that she needs". In a voice-over, June realizes he’s scared and sees his fear as a "great motivator".

At home, Mr. Lawrence is out to a meeting. June sneaks into his office and starts poking around in his files. As she is caught by Mrs. Lawrence, she confesses to be looking for her "friends' children". Eleanor leads her to the basement where Joseph keeps the Red Center dossiers. Downstairs, June sits on the ground and starts poring through several boxes of the handmaids' files. She eventually finds her own. When she suggests Eleanor leaving Gilead along with her husband, she declines pointing out that Joseph as a war criminal would be jailed - or killed - as soon as he crosses the border, admitting "he would deserve it". She leaves June alone with the files.

Beth beckons a surprised June to the sitting room where Commander Winslow, Aunt Lydia, and the Waterfords have gathered. June recalls they used to send "bearing witnesses" in the first months of Gilead when some households resisted the Ceremony. After some Bible verses, Joseph, Eleanor and June go upstairs to the bedroom.

Joseph suggests to wait for a while and then simply go back downstairs, but June reminds him that a doctor would check her afterwards, which puts Eleanor in rage. June points out they "do have" to do something. Eleanor is sent in an adjacent room. June coaches her commander to "treat it like a job and see it from the outside, as a transaction." Afterwards, Joseph goes down to his study without a word to their guests. The doctor checks June out, and Aunt Lydia announces that it’s been “a successful ceremony.”

Liars Edit

The episode opens with June Osborne contemplating a vow by several Marthas and Handmaids to smuggle 52 children to Canada. June later finds a deranged Eleanor Lawrence holding her husband Joseph, who tries to reason with her, at gunpoint. June tells Eleanor to lower the gun but Eleanor wants to kill him for raping June during the ceremony. June sympathizes with Eleanor but tells her to control herself. June tells Eleanor that she needs her and Commander Lawrence’s help to smuggle children out of Gilead.

After calming Eleanor down, June spends time with Commander Lawrence in the living room. She tells Lawrence about her plan to evacuate 52 children out of Gilead with the help of Marthas. June tells him that this can help him to make amends for his role in creating Gilead. Lawrence replies that he overlooked mental health and maternal love and that he struggles to live with the regret. Lawrence says that he needs to get his wife out. June convinces Lawrence to supply her with more trucks. June asks Commander Lawrence to toy with the prospect of becoming a hero.

Sacrifice Edit

The episode opens with June looking out a window and fiddling with her pistol. She hears a van approaching and parking. As she hears boots walking up the stairs, June raises her gun. However, it turns out to be Eleanor Lawrence, who tells her that there are several men with Joseph. Eleanor tells June that Beth will need help to serve coffee and sandwiches to the men downstairs. She advises June to leave her gun upstairs.

Back at the Lawrence household, June finds Eleanor breathing heavily by a cupboard. She says she should go back because Joseph would want her to. Eleanor thanks June for being kind to her. The two enter the living room where Joseph is hosting Olivia Winslow and Naomi Putnam. Joseph leads them in prayer over Winslow, who is officially believed to be missing. Olivia is afraid for her children.

June says that she will pray for Commander Winslow's safe return. Olivia expresses frustration that the other Commanders are more preoccupied with blowing things up then finding her husband. Olivia begs Joseph to get George back because she fears that her six children will be taken away if her husband is not found. Eleanor almost tells Olivia about June's plan to liberate children from Gilead but Joseph clarifies that they will take the Winslow children in if George is not found. Olivia thanks Eleanor. Olivia adds that the Eyes questioned them about Fred and Serena and expresses relief that people know where they are.

Eleanor tells Joseph that she is going to visit another household to get a boy named David out. June reassures Eleanor that she has other people looking after that. Eleanor wants to tell the parents of the blonde girl living down the street about their plans but June tells her that she is not going to tell her parents because she does not know where the MacKenzies are. June reminds Eleanor that she has to keep their operation a secret and shakes her.

Joseph tells June that it's enough. Eleanor apologizes for not thinking and June accepts her apology. Joseph tries to comfort Eleanor by telling her to think about their lives once they have left Gilead. Eleanor asks can they really do that before walking away. Joseph sends Eleanor upstairs to take a rest.

June brings refreshments to Eleanor in bed but finds that she has overdosed on her medicine. June tries to wake Eleanor and considers calling for help. However, she pauses and instead decides not to call for help; believing that Eleanor is a liability to her plan. June waits in silence and sits beside the stricken Eleanor, waiting as she breathes her final breath. June kisses Eleanor in the head and spends some time with her. She then quietly exits the room and leaves the refreshments outside the door.

June quietly returns to her bed where she lies down until morning. When day comes, the Marthas find that Eleanor has passed away in her bed. June lies on her bed.

Back at the Lawrence household, June helps the Marthas in the kitchen prepare a meal. Joseph arrives and gives June two of the late Eleanor's wine bottles, which she had hidden in the basement. After the Marthas exit the kitchen, Joseph tells June that he was saving the wine bottles for he and Eleanor’s anniversary. June tells Joseph that Luke left some bottles of Pinot overnight in the car. The glass bottles shattered in the ice and the wine was wasted.

Joseph tells June that he managed to keep the border with Canada open. He says that he managed to convince the Council because they did not want to argue with a man in mourning. June expresses her condolences for Eleanor’s passing. Joseph describes his wife as fragile and blames himself for her death. June tells Joseph not to blame himself and lies that she could have checked on her. June also tells him that Eleanor was a very kind woman, which he agrees.

June, who is dressed in black, and Aunt Lydia join the wives including Naomi Putnam at Eleanor's funeral. Joseph and the other Commanders are also present. Joseph officiates over the funeral and asks for the Lord to forgive her sins, show her mercy, and welcome her to the gates of Heaven. Another Commander begs for forgiveness because they did not ease her pain and save her troubled soul. June watches solemnly over the funeral.

After the Commanders and their Wives disperse, June convinces Aunt Lydia to let her spend time with Joseph. She asks if he would rather be alone. Joseph allows her to stand beside him and the two reflect over the grave of Eleanor.

Mayday (TV Episode) Edit

Before heading to the airplane, June pleads with Joseph to come with them, saying that Eleanor would have wanted that. Joseph replies that Eleanor would have wanted him to stay and clean up his own mess.

Appearances Edit

Season Two Edit

Season Three Edit


“I think I’m keen on an adventure!” - Season 3, Episode 7

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Episode 2.12, "Postpartum"
  2. Episode 3.5, Unknown Caller
  3. Episode 3.7, "Under His Eye"
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