That maybe 20 year-old boy can tell me to do anything, break my jaw, and no one would say boo.

A Martha about her legal position in the society[1].

Marthas are a social class of women in the Republic of Gilead. They serve as domestic servants to the families of Commanders, or serve the state in domestic industries, such as working in laundries.

Attire[edit | edit source]

Marthas usually wear green outfits, often with an apron over the top. They also wear headscarves to cover their hair. 

Role[edit | edit source]

Marthas serve as servants, cooks, and housekeepers. They clean the houses, go shopping, and cook and serve meals for the high-ranking family they've been assigned to. Most Marthas seem to be infertile, low-ranking, and/or unmarried women; events in season 3 ("Chicago Women") suggest Marthas to be Unwomen who still appear to be "useful" for domestic tasks due to their pre-Gileadean occupation[2]. For instance, a former chef was reclassified as a Martha and assigned to "Jezebel's" as a cook[3].

Since women in Gilead aren't principally allowed to hold a job [4], a Martha's service is unlikely to be officially remunerated; yet they are given tokens [5].

In the novel, it is also implied that most Marthas are ethnic minorities, such as African-American or Latina, displaying Gilead's further discrimination against women who belong to minority groups; in the television series, one featured Martha, Rita, is portrayed by a woman of color. Marthas are sometimes assisted in their tasks by their household's Handmaid.

Marthas in the TV Series

Marthas often gossip amongst each other and are usually quite friendly with each other. It is even implied they have a communication network of their own. They can be somewhat prejudiced and derogatory toward Handmaids though. If the Wife they serve has children, then Marthas may help in the rearing, acting as a nanny. Many Marthas look forward to this, because, among other reasons, it may be the only chance they will have to raise a child as if it were their own.

It is implied by Offred that if a Martha lives past her "prime", she is sent to The Colonies, where she is ensured certain death[citation needed].

Known Marthas[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Episode 2.9, "Smart Power"
  2. Episode 3.3, Useful
  3. Beth's retrospects in Jezebels and Mary and Martha
  4. Episode 1.3, Late
  5. Episode 1.1, Offred (TV Episode)
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