In the novel Edit
The Aunts are a class of women assigned to indoctrinate Handmaids with the beliefs of the new society and make them accept their fates. Aunt Lydia works at the Red Center, the re‑education school where Offred and other women go for instruction before becoming Handmaids.
Although she appears only in Offred’s flashbacks, Aunt Lydia and her instructions haunt Offred in her daily life. Aunt Lydia’s slogans and maxims drum the ideology of the new society into heads of the women, until even those like Offred, women who do not truly believe in the ideology, hear Gilead’s words echoing in their heads.
In the Hulu series Edit
Aunt Lydia is portrayed by actress Ann Dowd. She, along with the other Aunts, are the teachers of the Rachel and Leah Center. In the beginning, she teaches the fertile women, including Emily, June, Moira, and Janine. about their new roles as handmaids. She then congratulates the women for their fertility, but when Janine scoffed at the idea of bearing children for the barren couples, Aunt Lydia shocks her with a cattle prod and later removes her right eye as punishment.