“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.
Marthas usually wear green outfits, often with an apron over the top. They also wear headscarves to cover their hair.
Marthas serve as servants, 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 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. For instance, a former chef was reclassified as Martha and assigned to "Jezebel's" as kitchen maid.
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 of the featured Marthas, Rita, is herself played by a woman of color. Marthas are sometimes assisted in their tasks by their household's Handmaid. They provide food for the Handmaids as well.
Marthas in the TV Series
Marthas often gossip amongst each other, and are usually quite friendly with each other. It is even implied that they have a communication network of their own. They can be somewhat prejudiced, and derogatory, towards 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.
- Rita (escaped in the TV series)
- Cora (Commander Fred) (Novel, and 1990 film)
- Cora (Commander Lawrence) (TV series)
- Beth (TV series)
- Martha 6715-301 (TV series, executed)
- Dr. Hodgson (TV series)
- Eun Jung Park (TV series)
- Doris (TV series)
- Alison (TV series)
- Sienna (TV series)
- Tamara (TV series)
- Frances (TV series, executed)
- Maureen (TV series)
- Maggie (TV series)
- Zilla (The Testaments)
- Vera (The Testaments)
- Rosa (The Testaments)