Why do Handmaids wear red?

Why do Handmaids wear red?

The significance of the red outfit

The red attire worn by Handmaids in Margaret Atwood’s novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” holds immense symbolic value. The vibrant red color of their clothing represents several important aspects of their lives and roles in the dystopian society depicted in the book.

1. Identification as Handmaids

The red uniform helps to easily distinguish Handmaids from other groups in this society. In Gilead, Handmaids are fertile women assigned to bear children for the ruling class. The red clothing acts as a uniform to identify them as reproductive vessels.

2. The color of blood and fertility

Red is traditionally associated with blood, and blood is often linked to fertility. The Handmaids’ primary purpose is to bear children, making the red attire a powerful symbol of their reproductive abilities. The color mirrors the monthly cycle of women and their potential to conceive.

3. Subjugation and control

The red outfits worn by Handmaids serve as a constant reminder of their subjugated position in society. The Handmaids have limited rights and are stripped of their individuality. The uniform acts as a tool of control and oppression by the totalitarian regime of Gilead.

4. Religious connotations

Why do Handmaids wear red?

Gilead is a theocratic society that uses religion to justify its oppressive practices. The red color holds religious significance, representing martyrdom and sacrifice. By wearing red, the Handmaids are presented as sacrificial figures, purely existing to fulfill their reproductive duties.

5. Visibility and surveillance

The bright red attire worn by Handmaids ensures their visibility and constant surveillance. The rulers of Gilead aim to control and monitor every aspect of their lives. The conspicuous red clothing makes it difficult for Handmaids to escape or deviate from their strictly defined roles.

The red clothing worn by Handmaids in “The Handmaid’s Tale” is far more than just a fashion choice. It represents their identity, fertility, control, religious subtexts, and constant surveillance. The vibrant and conspicuous nature of the red uniform plays a significant role in reinforcing the themes of oppression, control, and subjugation explored in Atwood’s novel.

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