Esther Keyes is a character in the fourth season of The Handmaid's Tale.

History[edit | edit source]

Esther had an arranged marriage to the elderly Commander Keyes, becoming his Wife. He was unable to sexually perform, but he still wanted them to have a child. As a result, Commander Keyes had Esther raped by many Guardians, Eyes, and Commanders, hoping that she would become pregnant. In particular, Johnny Pogue raped her multiple times.[1] Esther soon started gradually poisoning her husband with nightshade, and he began to go senile.[2]

Season 4[edit | edit source]

"Pigs"[edit | edit source]

After the liberation of eighty-six children from Gilead, Esther agrees to host June and her fellow handmaids on her estate after she is contacted through Mayday and The Marthas' Network. She welcomes June, who collapses from septic shock. June recovers with home-made penicillin in a guest room, while Janine, Alma, Brianna, Sara, and Ellie disguise themselves as Esther's Marthas on her farm.

When June recovers, she goes outside to work. Esther cautions her to keep herself safe, as drones are looking for the escaped Handmaids. June tells Esther not to worry, as Marthas working on farms is very inconspicuous in rural communities. When June questions her age and seems unconfident about the rebellion, Esther boldly tells June that she is the mistress of the house, and asks why she freed the children if she didn't want to fight.

Esther slaughters one of her pigs to feed the disguised Handmaids. At dinner, Janine refuses to eat the pork, as she had grown close to the pig, who she had named Mr. Darcy. Esther forces Janine to eat the pork, but June cautions her from being so harsh. Going to a side room, June tells Esther about everything Janine has gone through. In response, Esther reveals the horrors that her husband has put her through. June comforts her, and tells her that God will make the men who raped her pay.

Later, a captured Guardian named Pogue is caught on the Keyes farm as a drunk trespasser. The Marthas start beating him, and Esther reveals his abuse of her to the others. June tells her to stop, and instead, they take him inside the barn, where they carry out a mock Salvaging. Esther stabs him to death, and climbs into bed with June, the pair comforting one another.[1]

"Nightshade"[edit | edit source]

When Guardians visit the Keyes household, Esther holds them off with her charisma. Later, June reveals her plan to move onto the next safehouse. Esther begs June to take her on the journey, and June eventually accepts, but says that they need to do something about the Commander. June realizes that Esther has been poisoning the Commander with nightshade, and uses it to poison the Commanders at a nearby Jezebel's.

Before Esther and June can move onto the next safehouse, the house is raided by Guardians.[2]

"The Crossing"[edit | edit source]

Nick Blaine reveals that Esther has been arrested, while the other Handmaids managed to flee to the next safehouse located on the Murrow household.[3]

"Progress"[edit | edit source]

Janine is shocked when she sees Esther as a handmaid, being punished for refusing to eat. Janine meekly steps in to prevent Aunt Lydia from torturing the girl, suggesting that she can maybe get her to comply. Esther is very interested in what June is up to, but Janine hardens her voice as she tells her that she needs to stay alive so she can be here when things get better. The former Commander's wife initially resists but eventually gives in and eats. Aunt Lydia is pleased with Janine’s efforts.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Season Four[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Her name mirrors the Biblical Esther, who is arranged to marry the King of Persia, similar to Esther's arranged marriage to Commander Keyes.

References[edit | edit source]

References[edit source]

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