Handmaids Tale

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Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, portrays men and women in a society with very rigid gender roles which give its citizens no chance of social mobility. Within this society there is no individual choice, because the women’s rankings and duties are decided upon according to where they reside in their reproductive abilities. The women may take on the following ranks and duties according to the stage of reproduction they are at: Handmaids, who wear red, are the girls who are at a ripe reproductive age, and whose sole duty is to produce children; Commander’s Wives, who wear blue, and whose duties are to sew and to raise the children born of the Handmaids; Marthas, who wear green, and are old women who are past their reproductive prime, doing only housework; and Widows, who wear black; and the Econowives, who wear cheap skimpy stripped dresses which include red, blue and green, as they do all of the duties for their commanders.

Offred, the main character, belongs to the Handmaid class. In the following quote she shows her discontent for her society and lack of individual freedoms because of the color or class she is restricted to: I get up out of the chair, advance my feet into the sunlight, in their red shoes, flat-heeled to save the spine and not for dancing. The red gloves are lying on the bed. I pick them up, pull them onto my hands, finger by finger. Everything except the wings around my face is red: the color of blood, which defines us (8).

Here her life is defined by the color red, which is the color that is assigned to her class of the Handmaid. Red is the color assigned to the Handmaid’s because the Handmaid’s are the ones who bare the children of the society in which Offred is a member of. Red often symbolizes sexual desire which is fitting because the young women must be sexually desired in order to reproduce.

Blue symbolizes loyalty and fidelity which is the color that corresponds with the wives. The Commander’s wife is showing...
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