The Handmaid's Tale Color Red Analysis

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Atwood is very descriptive when the main character, Offred, is describing color in the environment, and in particular the color red. The color red is the color that will decide the future of the handmaid’s. It is a color correlated with shame and with pregnancy, showing both signs of failure and success by the handmaid’s. The use of the color red and shame are often linked together through Offred describing blood in violence and death. The red in the blood relates to the female reproductive system, resulting in a failure by the Handmaids. Shame can also be seen in the red outfits that the handmaids wear by showing their social status in Gilead. The social status is often seen as disproval from others throughout…show more content…
The red of the outfit shows the social status of the handmaids, which is shame and disapproval. An example of this comes when Offred was first interacting with a Martha, “But the frown isn’t personal: it’s the red dress she disapproves of and what it stands for” (10). Another case of the red of her outfit and social status of disproval and shame behind it can be seen when Offred describes walking in the streets. “Now we walk along the same street in red pairs, and no man shouts obscenities at us, speaks to us, touches us” (24). By her saying red pairs, she is talking about the red from the uniforms worn by the handmaid and the handmaids are walking the streets in pairs of two. The handmaids are practically invisible since everyone is ignoring them, which is due to the outfit worn and the meaning behind it. As can be seen by the use of red relating to the outfit, the color behind brings much shame because it shows the role that the handmaids play in the Gilead society, which is a sex…show more content…
The first use of the color red in relation to fertility comes when Offred is describing the tulips in Serna Joy’s garden “The tulips are red, a darker crimson towards the stem, as if they have been cut off and are beginning to heal” (12). The tulips in this case represent the handmaids, the reason why the tulips are a darker shade of red is because Serna Joy has cut them to prevent them from flourishing. By Serena Joy cutting them off and preventing them from flourishing it means that the handmaids cannot flourish and give birth, causing Offred to become a failure and lead to shame. The next time the tulips are discussed is when Offred is looking at the bodies of the doctors, who performed abortions, hanging from the wall. She describes the blood on one by saying “It makes a mouth, a small red one, like the mouths painted with thick brushes by kindergarten children” (32). Moments later she drawls a connection between the red of the blood and the red of the tulips “I look at the red smile. The red of the smile is the same as the red of the tulips in Serena Joy’s garden, towards the base of the flowers where they are beginning to heal” (33). This connection between the color of the red of the blood and the tulips shows the ending of a pregnancy, either menstrual through the tulips, or abortion shown through the blood of the doctors. Like the first mention of tulips, this one too results in a failure because no
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