Moira is a main character in The Handmaid's Tale and the Hulu adaptation The Handmaid's Tale. She is Offred's best friend since adolescence, who became something of a legend amongst the Handmaids for successfully escaping the Red Center. She is portrayed by Samira Wiley in the television series.
In the novel Edit
Moira and Offred have been friends for years and attended college together. Moira is a feminist and gender equality activist; later in life, she realized she was a lesbian, though it's implied she had had relationships with men in the past, and her reason for dating exclusively women was that she found relationships with men dissatisfying. When the Republic of Gilead began its takeover of the US, which Moira saw coming when Offred didn't, Offred came to see Moira when she couldn't contact her mother. Moira comforts Offred and says that she too has been fired from her job and had her bank account frozen. She warns Offred that worse things are yet to come and that it's "You and me, up against the wall, baby."
After her unsuccessful attempt to escape to Canada, Offred meets Moira again at the Red Center, she having been rounded up and sent there to be indoctrinated. Moira resists the training, defying the Aunts and also mocking them behind their backs, whilst plotting to escape. Her first escape attempt ends in failure and she is beaten for her actions. However, Moira succeeds in taking an Aunt captive by dismantling the toilet and using a piece of metal from it as a weapon. She ties the Aunt up, takes her clothes and pass, and then simply walks out. Moira becomes something of a legend and idol to the other Handmaids, who privately look up to her as a symbol of rebellion.
Unfortunately, it is later revealed that Moira was recaptured, though she came close to getting over the border with help from Quakers. Moira couldn't be sent back to Red Center, as her rebellious nature could be a bad influence on the other Handmaids, and was offered a choice: go to Colonies or become a prostitute at Jezebel's. After seeing a video of the horrific conditions in the Colonies - where Moira glimpsed her old friend Offred's mother - she agreed to become a Jezebel, her spirit having been broken by the regime and figuring it's better than the alternative. Moira meets Offred again at Jezebel's years later, where the two have a brief chance to catch up. Moira is accepting of her position in life and claims it's not so bad, as she is allowed cigarettes, alcohol and other forbidden luxuries, though Offred is shocked and disheartened by how apathetic Moira seems to have become. It is unknown what becomes of Moira, as after Offred encounters her at Jezebel's, she never sees her again. It is also suggested that Moira was in fact a pseudonym, used by Offred to protect her friend's identity.
In the Hulu series Edit
Moira is portrayed by Samira Wiley.
Moira's character remains mostly unchanged. One change is that when Offred arrives at the Red Center, Moira has already been there for some time and shows Offred how things work in the Center, whereas in the book, their roles were reversed. In addition, in the novel, Moira is depicted as being Caucasian, whilst in the TV series, she is depicted as African American. This is due to a change from the novel, where African Americans, or the 'Children of Ham', as Gilead calls them, were discriminated against and extradited from the nation, which is not included in the TV adaption.
In the 1990 film Edit
Moira is portrayed by Elizabeth McGovern.
Moira has much the same role in the film as she does in the book. However, one notable difference is that in this adaption, Offred first meets and befriends Moira in the Red Center, rather than previously knowing her.