Totalitarianism, Violence, and the Color Red in the Handmaid’s Tale

1863 WordsFeb 17, 20128 Pages
Totalitarianism, Violence, and the Color Red in The Handmaid’s Tale In literature, the color red symbolizes many things, each with its own emotional impact. Red can be associated with violence and bloodshed, or it can be associated with love and intense emotions. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred, chosen to be a “baby-maker” for a couple she was assigned to, desires to escape the dystopian society that she lives in. Thus, Margaret creates a fictional government that uses totalitarianism, violence, and the reoccurring pattern of the color red to illustrate the negative impact it has on women, especially the Handmaids. Throughout The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred recalls her past life before and during the creation of the Republic of…show more content…
They also wear a white habit, which blocks their peripheral vision when walking to the market. “Everything except the wings around my face is red: the color of blood” (8). The color red that the Handmaids are dressed in represents fertility, their main purpose. The desire to conceive a child is what all Handmaids strive to achieve. When a Handmaid has her menstrual cycle each month, the blood serves as a reminder and reinforces what they desire so much. “Likewise, the blood-red gowns of the Handmaids conjure positive associations with birth and life as well as pejorative links with suffering, shame, and female bondage to reproductive cycles” (enotes). The government stresses the importance of conceiving a child so much, that the Handmaids have become fearful if they do not become pregnant. The Handmaids that are unable to are sent to the colonies to perform hard manual labor and are called “Unwomen”. This ideology has a negative psychological impact on how the Handmaids view life; it is mostly based on survival. Throughout the novel, Offred’s and the Handmaids’ lives are dominated by the color red. Their garments are red, the doctors who examine them each month wear red armbands, the sidewalks they walk on are red, and the vehicles that transport them to view each birth (the birthmobiles) are red. Red also serves s a symbol of danger and violence to enhance the nature of the government. For

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