The Handmaid's Tale

Good Essays
Christa Bennett

Atwood does a fantastic job of incorporating color symbolism throughout The Handmaid’s Tale. One of the main colors she uses to push her plot forward is the color red. When you think of the color red what do you think of... love, rage, anger, power, Communism... maybe blood. In the book The Handmaid’s Tale, red is the color of the handmaids. The Handmaids always wear long red habits if you will; that covers their whole body. “The skirt is ankle-length, full, gathered to a flat yoke that extends over the breasts, the sleeves are full.” (Atwood 8). Many people believe that the red habits symbolizes life's blood. Also red symbolize the menstrual cycle that comes to most Handmaid every month; a reminder to how the have failed to produce a child for the Commander and his wife.
But going back to the habits the Handmaids wear. In the beginning of the book when the Offred and Ofglen go to the market, they have to pass checkpoints; where they have to pass Guardians, men who get no sexually play. Offred describes how her red habit shows nothing, so it gives the Guardians a gateway to the imagination of what is under the habit. That red habit gives Offred power over something “They touch with their eyes instead and I move my hips a little, feeling the full red skirt sway around me... I enjoy the power; power of the dog bone.... I hope they get hard at the sight of usand have to rub themselves against the painted barriers... They will suffer...” (Atwood 22).
Many times in the book these red tulips seem to pop up. There is a set of red tulips in Serena Joy’s garden. She grows them in her garden because to her they represent life and fertility which is a key theme of the novel. And since she can't bear her own child. She must-- even if she hates to-- put her trust in Offred to produce her her heir. But couldn’t the red also stand for the hatred Serena Joy feels for her In today’s society if a person was to give a tulip to someone it would be because of

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