Have you ever wondered what the color red symbolizes in Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale? Well, wonder no more! This iconic dystopian fiction piece is laced with meaningful symbolism, with the color red being one of the most prevalent.
From the very start of the book, red is introduced as the color of the handmaids’ dresses, which serve as their uniforms. The dresses are vibrant and conspicuous, designed to ensure that the handmaids are easily recognizable. This bold color choice is no coincidence; it represents a myriad of things. One can argue that it symbolizes danger, passion, and blood. However, beyond these obvious connotations, the color red serves to communicate different things throughout the book.
As you delve further into The Handmaid’s Tale, you will realize that the color red is used to represent the handmaids themselves. The color signifies their roles within Gilead’s oppressive society, including their loss of individual identity, bodily autonomy, and freedom. One can argue that it’s a testament to the characters’ resilience and strength. However, it’s impossible to deny the weight of the contextual implications that come with the color choice. That being said, let’s take a deeper look at how red is used to communicate the intricacies of the book’s themes and social commentary.
Red symbolizes the Handmaids’ fertility and womanhood
Throughout Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the color red is used symbolically to represent the Handmaids’ fertility and womanhood. The Handmaids, women who serve as reproductive vessels for the ruling class, are dressed in crimson robes and white bonnets to signify their reproductive role in society.
- The color red is associated with the menstrual cycle and blood, both of which are integral to reproduction and fertility.
- In the novel, the Handmaids are valued solely for their ability to bear children.
- Their fertility is closely monitored and controlled by the ruling class, who use them as a means to maintain their power and privilege.
The Handmaids’ red uniforms also serve as a reminder of their status as reproductive objects. They are not seen as individuals, but as vessels for the continuation of the ruling class’s lineage.
The color red is also used to symbolize female power and strength. While the Handmaids may be viewed as powerless in their society, their ability to bear children is a source of strength and power. Through their fertility, they have the potential to reshape the future of their society.
|Symbolizes the Handmaids’ fertility and reproductive role in society
|Associated with the color red and is integral to reproduction and fertility
|The Handmaids’ ability to bear children is a source of strength and power in their society
The use of the color red as a symbol in The Handmaid’s Tale underscores the importance of fertility and reproductive rights in women’s lives. It serves as a reminder of the ways in which women’s bodies have been controlled and policed, and the need for women to have autonomy over their own reproductive choices.
Red Symbolizes the Oppression and Control of the Patriarchal Society
One of the central themes in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is the oppression and control of women by the patriarchal society. The color red is a symbol that is frequently used throughout the novel to represent this theme.
- Red is the color of the handmaids’ dresses, which are a uniform for the women who are forced to bear children for their assigned male owners.
- Red is also the color of the blood of menstruation and childbirth, which are both used as tools of control and oppression against women.
- The red wall in the center of the household dining room is another symbol of the power and control of the patriarchal society. It serves as a reminder to the handmaids of their role and the consequences of disobedience.
The red imagery in the novel is a powerful representation of the ways in which women are subjugated and controlled by a society that values them only for their reproductive capabilities. By using the color red to symbolize these themes, Atwood draws attention to the ways in which women are reduced to mere vessels for male desire.
Furthermore, the use of the color red highlights the ways in which patriarchy is rooted in violence and domination. Throughout the novel, the handmaids are subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual violence by their male rulers. Red serves as a reminder of this violence, as it is also the color of bloodshed and injury.
The Handmaid’s Tale Red Symbolism Table
|The uniform for the handmaids, representing their subjugation and forced reproduction.
|Symbolizes menstruation and childbirth, both used as tools for control and oppression against women.
|Represents the power and control of the patriarchal society, serving as a reminder to the handmaids of their role and the consequences of disobedience.
|Represents the violence and domination rooted in patriarchy, as well as the bloodshed and injury resulting from it.
The color red is an integral part of the symbolism in The Handmaid’s Tale. By using it to represent the oppression and domination of women, Margaret Atwood draws attention to the ways in which patriarchal societies use violence, control, and subjugation to maintain their power over women.
Red symbolizes the danger and violence of the regime
The color red is used extensively in The Handmaid’s Tale to represent the danger and violence of the oppressive regime. The red symbolizes the bloodshed and brutality that takes place in Gilead. Here are three examples of how the color red symbolizes the regime’s violence:
- Red Clothing: The Handmaids are forced to wear red from head to toe, which represents their fertility and the bloodshed that comes with childbirth. It also symbolizes their lack of freedom and constant surveillance, as the red color makes them easily identifiable and separates them from the rest of society.
- The Wall of Executed Bodies: The wall of executed bodies serves as a warning to those who might go against the regime. The bodies are hung on the wall in bold red uniforms, symbolizing the bloodshed and brutality of the executions. The red color is used to instill fear and submission in the general population, showing them the consequences of rebellion.
- The Handmaid’s monthly menstruation: The menstrual cycle of Handmaids is closely monitored by the regime to keep track of their fertility. The red color of the monthly blood symbolizes the Handmaids’ power to create life, but at the same time, it represents the violence and trauma they have endured in their forced reproduction.
The color red in The Handmaid’s Tale is a powerful symbol of the violence and brutality of the regime. Each use of the color depicts the loss of freedom, the separation from society, and the danger that lurks beneath the surface. Through the use of red, Margaret Atwood creates a world that is both terrifying and eerily familiar, reminding us of the dangers of unchecked power.
Red symbolizes the resistance and rebellion of the Handmaids
In the world of The Handmaid’s Tale, the color red is synonymous with the handmaids and their role in resisting the oppressive regime of Gilead. Here are four ways that the color red symbolizes resistance and rebellion:
- Blood and fertility: The handmaids wear red to symbolize their role as fertile breeders in a society with dangerously low birth rates. The color red is also associated with menstruation and childbirth, natural processes that are suppressed and controlled by Gilead.
- Standing out: The handmaids are intentionally dressed in a garish shade of red to make them stand out in public, serving as a warning to other women not to disobey the rules of Gilead. This tactic backfires, as the handmaids use their visibility to secretly organize and resist the regime.
- Revolutionary ideals: The red of the handmaids’ dresses is a nod to the French Revolution, which saw revolutionaries wearing the color as a symbol of their commitment to the cause. This connection to revolutionary ideals reinforces the handmaids’ role as part of a larger movement fighting for change.
- Defiance: Ultimately, the color red symbolizes the handmaids’ defiance against the regime that seeks to control them. By refusing to be broken, the handmaids use their red clothing, their bodies, and their voices to resist the oppressive system that seeks to keep them down.
The color red in The Handmaid’s Tale is more than just an aesthetic choice; it’s a powerful symbol of resistance and rebellion against a system of oppression. By wearing red and claiming it as their own, the handmaids demonstrate their refusal to be silenced and their determination to fight for a better future.
Red symbolizes the connection between the Handmaids and their past lives
The color red in The Handmaid’s Tale is a significant symbol that represents the Handmaids’ connection to their past lives. The Handmaids’ red dresses are a reminder of their former identities and the lives they once led before being stripped of their individuality and becoming property of the state. Below are some examples of how red symbolizes the connection between the Handmaids and their past lives.
- Red symbolizes the Handmaids’ previous lives: The red dresses worn by the Handmaids are reminiscent of their previous lives before Gilead took control. The color represents the passion, love, and freedom they once had. By wearing the red dress, the Handmaids are reminded of their previous lives and the people they once were. This connection helps them to hold on to their past and maintain hope for the future.
- Red connects the Handmaids to each other: The Handmaids’ red dresses create a sense of unity and connection among them. They share a common bond in their past lives and their current struggles. The color serves as a visual reminder of their shared experiences and the strength they can find in each other.
- Red symbolizes resistance: The Handmaids wearing red is an act of resistance against the oppressive regime of Gilead. By wearing the color associated with their former identities and emotions, the Handmaids are asserting their individuality and refusing to be reduced to mere vessels for reproduction.
In addition to the symbolism of the Handmaids’ red dresses, the color red is also prevalent in other aspects of the story:
The Red Center: The Red Center is the indoctrination and training facility for the Handmaids. The name is significant because it is a physical space where the women are completely stripped of their identities and only their assigned roles as Handmaids matter.
The Blood Red Wall: The Blood Red Wall is a barrier that separates the Handmaids from the outside world. The red color of the wall represents the violence and death that are constantly present in Gilead. It is also a reminder of the Handmaids’ own potential for bloodshed, as they are forced to participate in the execution of those who do not conform to the regime.
|Represents the Handmaids’ previous lives, connection to each other, and resistance against Gilead
|The Red Center
|Symbolizes the complete stripping of the Handmaids’ identities and the emphasis on their assigned roles
|The Blood Red Wall
|Represents the violence and death present in Gilead, and the Handmaids’ own potential for bloodshed
Overall, the color red in The Handmaid’s Tale is a powerful symbol that represents the Handmaids’ connection to their past lives, as well as their current struggle for survival and resistance against the oppressive regime of Gilead.
Red symbolizes the sexuality and desire of the Handmaids
Throughout Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, the color red plays a significant role in symbolizing the sexuality and desire of the Handmaids. The protagonist and narrator, Offred, is dressed in a red cloak and white bonnet, which identifies her as a Handmaid responsible for bearing children for her assigned Commander and his wife. However, the color red has multiple connotations in this context, and it represents not only sensuality but also danger and violence.
- The red clothing of the Handmaids is described as “lingerie, filmy, gauze-like, it flows and billows in the breeze.” This description highlights the eroticism of the clothing and emphasizes the idea that the Handmaids are objectified for their fertility.
- The presence of the red tulips in the Commander’s garden also symbolizes desire and sexual attraction. The flowers are used as a tool of seduction and temptation by both the Commander and Offred, who admires their beauty and acknowledges their erotic significance.
- In contrast, the presence of the Eyes, the secret police tasked to enforce the laws of Gilead, is also associated with the color red. The Eyes’ vehicles are described as “red vans,” which indicate their presence as a looming threat and danger to those who disobey the rules. Hence, the color red is used to signify both sensuality and peril in the novel.
The Handmaid’s Tale illustrates how the color red symbolizes the dichotomy of sexuality in the dystopian society of Gilead. The Handmaids are reduced to their biological functions as surrogate mothers, and their sexual desires are sublimated and oppressed. However, the color red also represents a sense of defiance and rebellion against the regime, as Offred uses her sexuality as a tool of resistance and escape.
The table below summarizes the various meanings of red in The Handmaid’s Tale:
|The Handmaid’s red cloak and white bonnet
|The red tulips in the Commander’s garden
|The Eyes’ red vans
|Offred’s use of her sexuality as a form of rebellion
The color red, therefore, serves as a powerful symbol of the Handmaid’s sexuality and desire, reflecting the oppressive and subversive nature of the society in which they live.
Red symbolizes the blood of those who have suffered under the regime.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, red is the color that represents the blood of those who have suffered under the oppressive regime of Gilead. The color is symbolic of the sacrifices made by the people who fought against the regime and those who continue to suffer under it.
The use of red in the book is strategic and powerful. It is a visual representation of the horrors of the regime and the atrocities committed against the people who defy it. The color also serves as a reminder of the cost paid by those who fought against the regime and lost their lives in the process.
The following are some examples of how the color red is used as symbolism in The Handmaid’s Tale:
- The red robes and bonnets worn by the handmaids serve as a constant reminder of their fertility and the potential cost of their rebellion.
- The blood-stained sheets after the ceremony ritual serve as a graphic reminder of the handmaid’s duty to bear children for their Commanders.
- The red tulips in Serena Joy’s garden symbolize her longing for a child and the pain she felt at not being able to conceive.
The use of color in The Handmaid’s Tale
The use of color in The Handmaid’s Tale is an important literary device that helps to convey the themes of the book. The author, Margaret Atwood, carefully chose the colors used in the book to represent different ideas and emotions.
Aside from red, there are other colors that play important roles in the story. For instance, the color green represents fertility and new life, while blue represents the austerity and control of the regime. White is used to represent purity and innocence, while black represents death and mourning.
The use of blood in literature
The use of blood in literature is not a new concept. Blood has been used as a symbol of violence, sacrifice, and passion in a variety of literary works throughout history. It is a powerful symbol that evokes strong emotions and creates a sense of urgency.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, the use of blood is particularly effective because it symbolizes the cost paid by those who stand up against the regime. The color red is a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought for freedom and lost their lives in the process.
Overall, the use of red as a symbol of the bloodshed and sacrifices made by those who have suffered under the regime is a powerful tool used in The Handmaid’s Tale. It serves as a constant reminder of the atrocities committed against the people and the cost of freedom.
|Blood, sacrifice, rebellion
|Fertility, new life
Colors are a powerful tool in literature and can be used to evoke strong emotions and convey important themes. The use of color in The Handmaid’s Tale is a prime example of how symbolism can enhance the reading experience and make the story even more impactful.
Red symbolizes the religious and spiritual beliefs of the society
The color red plays a significant role in Handmaid’s Tale as it represents the religious and spiritual beliefs of the society in the story. The Christian fundamentalist government of Gilead uses red as a symbol of purity and fertility. It is associated with the Handmaids, women who are forced to bear children for the elite members of society, and the fertility rituals they perform.
- The familiar red clothing and white bonnets worn by the Handmaids cover their bodies from head to toe, erasing their individuality and emphasizing their role as reproductive vessels.
- Red gloves are also an integral part of the Handmaids’ uniforms, symbolizing their status as being “in service” to their commander’s wives.
- The food served to the Handmaids is also symbolic. Red is the dominant color, with everything from strawberries to tomato soup reminding them of their physical function.
Interestingly, red also represents danger and revolution in the story. This is especially evident in the underground network known as Mayday, which uses the color red as a code to signal the start of an uprising. It shows how the same symbol can have multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is being used.
Additionally, the number 8 is significant in the story as it symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings. It is the number of years that Offred, the main character, has been a Handmaid before the story begins. In the ceremony in which the Handmaid is “impregnated,” the Commander reads from Genesis 30:1-3, which describes how Rachel gave Bilhah to her husband Jacob “to bear upon her knees, and that she might have children.” This ceremony takes place on the 8th day of the menstrual cycle, and is intended to recreate the biblical story of Rachel and Bilhah.
|The Number 8 in The Handmaid’s Tale
|Represents rebirth and new beginnings
|Offred has been a Handmaid for 8 years before the story begins
|The ceremony in which the Handmaid is “impregnated” takes place on the 8th day of the menstrual cycle
Overall, the color red and the number 8 in The Handmaid’s Tale serve as powerful symbols of the society’s religious and spiritual beliefs. They are used to reinforce the idea of female fertility, as well as to represent the hope for a new beginning and changes in the oppressive regime.
Red symbolizes the government’s propaganda and power
In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the color red is used as a symbol to represent the government’s propaganda and power. It is evident throughout the novel that the government uses red as a tool to manipulate society and keep its citizens in check. Here are some of the ways in which red symbolizes the government’s propaganda and power:
- The Handmaids’ robes: The most obvious use of red in the novel is the color of the handmaids’ robes. The red robes represent fertility and childbirth, which is the only value the government assigns to women. They are forced to wear these robes to show that they are fulfilling their duty to the state by bearing children for the elite.
- The Red Center: The Red Center is the facility where the handmaids are trained and indoctrinated into the government’s ideology. The name itself indicates that this is a place where the women are brainwashed into accepting their role as birth vessels. The walls are painted red, which symbolizes the government’s power over the women.
- The Ceremony: The monthly rape of the handmaids by their commanders is called “The Ceremony,” and it takes place in a room with red curtains and bedspread. The color red is used to signify the bloodshed that results from the ceremony, as well as the power dynamic between the handmaids and their commanders.
The table below shows how red is used as a tool for propaganda and power in The Handmaid’s Tale:
|Symbolize fertility and childbirth, and the government’s control over women’s bodies.
|Symbolizes brainwashing and indoctrination, and the government’s power over women.
|Symbolizes rape and the government’s power dynamic over women.
Overall, the color red is a powerful symbol in The Handmaid’s Tale, representing the government’s propaganda and control over its citizens. It is a reminder that in a dystopian society, even something as simple as a color can be used to manipulate and subjugate a population.
Red symbolizes the Handmaids’ loss of individuality and identity
In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the color red plays an important symbolic role. It is the color of the Handmaids’ uniforms, and it represents both fertility and danger. However, the color red also serves as a visual reminder of the Handmaids’ loss of individuality and identity.
- Red is a uniform color
- Uniforms represent conformity and loss of individuality
- The Handmaids are stripped of their names and identities
- They are only referred to by their role as Handmaids
- Their individual desires and needs are ignored
By wearing the red uniform, the Handmaids are stripped of their individuality and forced into conformity. The loss of their names and identities serves as a further reminder of the control that the government has over their lives. They are only referred to by their assigned role, which further dehumanizes them and reduces their sense of self-worth.
Furthermore, the color red also serves as a reminder of the danger that the Handmaids face. They are constantly at risk of punishment or even death if they fail to fulfill their duties, and the red uniform serves as a visual reminder of this danger. It is a constant threat that serves to further diminish their sense of individuality and freedom.
|Red uniforms represent conformity and loss of individuality
|Handmaids are stripped of their identities and only referred to by their role
|The red uniform serves as a reminder of the danger that the Handmaids face
In conclusion, the color red in The Handmaid’s Tale serves as a powerful symbol of the Handmaids’ loss of individuality and identity. The uniformity of the red clothing, coupled with the loss of their names and constant danger, serves to further strip them of their sense of self-worth and autonomy.
What Does Red Symbolize in The Handmaid’s Tale? FAQs
1. Why is red so prominent in The Handmaid’s Tale?
The color red is used extensively throughout The Handmaid’s Tale to symbolize a range of ideas, including revolution, passion, and danger. The choice of red is intentional, as it stands out against the stark, oppressive backdrop of the society in which the story is set.
2. What does the red clothing worn by handmaids represent?
The handmaids’ red clothing serves as a symbol of their fertility, as well as their subservience to the male-dominated society in which they live. It is also linked to the biblical story of the handmaidens who bore children for important figures.
3. Is there any political significance behind the color red in The Handmaid’s Tale?
Yes, the color red has strong political connotations in The Handmaid’s Tale, representing the socialist and communist ideologies that are seen as a threat to the totalitarian regime.
4. What does the red symbolism used in the Handmaid’s Tale say about societal control?
The pervasive use of red in The Handmaid’s Tale underscores the extent to which society in this dystopian world is controlled and regimented. Red is used as a tool of oppression, signifying the constant surveillance and control that the handmaids are subjected to.
5. How is the red symbolism linked to the theme of female repression in the Handmaid’s Tale?
In The Handmaid’s Tale, red represents the systematic repression and subjugation of women, who are forced to bear children for the ruling class. The color red is also used to symbolize the blood of menstruation, a natural process that is treated as shameful and taboo.
6. Does the use of red symbolism change throughout the story?
Yes, the symbolism of red in The Handmaid’s Tale shifts over the course of the story, reflecting changes in the political and social landscape. The color red becomes more associated with resistance and rebellion as the story progresses.
7. What is the ultimate significance of the color red in The Handmaid’s Tale?
At its core, the use of red in The Handmaid’s Tale represents the struggle for control over women’s bodies and reproductive rights. It is a powerful symbol of the threats that totalitarian regimes pose to individual freedom and agency.
Thanks for taking the time to read about the symbolic significance of red in The Handmaid’s Tale. By exploring the use of color in this powerful story, we can gain a deeper understanding of the themes and ideas that it contains. Be sure to check back for more articles on literature, culture, and politics!