The Handmaid's Tale: The Class Distinction And Function Of Society Based On Colour

1455 words - 6 pages

Imagine living in a world where the colour of your clothing gave away every detail about your life; how you lived, who you lived with and your role in society. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood is a futuristic dystopian novel. It explores the reversal of women’s rights and depicts gender inequality within a frightening and controlled society characterized by the use of colour. Colour carries a strong message to the reader through the powerful significance of colour differences associated between genders, the characters’ clothing, symbolism, its use as a class designation, the intonation it has on one’s self, and others, and the existence of flower imagery.
In the Society of Gilead, ...view middle of the document...

From red the colours become lighter or less significant. This shows the decrease of importance amongst their colour classifications within the female gender. The lacking of power shows the lacking of colour.
On the other hand, a man’s role is based upon power instead of the use of one’s body. Like the women in Gilead, the most powerful men are represented with the darkest colours. As authority comes to have a lesser presence and they decrease on the hierarchy of authority, the colours lighten as well. Men are categorized into many categories including Commanders, Angels, Guardians, and Eyes. All of these positions entitle dark clothing. The colours of the men vary from grey to black. Men automatically have more authority than women and because of this their clothing is all dark, but they represent a different shade of darkness. The darkness of the clothing represents the authority.
Branching further than genders, are the specific classifications of the characters. To begin with the men, Angels dress in “neat black uniforms” (Attwood 12). Dressing in all black demonstrates their authority and importance, (being in charge of Gilead). The Eyes are dressed in the colour grey. Grey is demonstrated as a very bland colour that does not stand out. The reason of this colour not standing out is that the Eyes are more or less spies. They are not supposed to stand out until their power is needed to catch or deceive someone. Lastly, Guardians are suited in Dark Green. Dark Green is the image of soliders in previous times. This uniform represents their control and authority in Gilead. The link between these characters is the fact that their colour scale represents their authority on an authority level. The darkest colours, being the Angels, are seen to have the most authority. But, just because the Angels’ have the most authority, it does not mean that they have the most power. The Commanders are seen to be the most powerful people in Gilead. They hold the most power, as well as the darkest clothing throughout the novel. They are the rulers because their duty is to have sex with Handmaids. The Commanders having sex with Handmaids is not for pleasure, but for the utmost important role of repopulating Gilead. They command a house of their own with a Wife, Martha, Handmaid, and Guardian all in their control.
While Commanders are the most important men based on their function and control, shown through their colour, Handmaids are the most important females. The outfits of Handmaids are the colours red and white. Offred states that “everything except the wings around [her] face is red: the colour that defines [them].” (Atwood 11) “The skirt is ankle-length, full, gathered to a flat yoke that extends over the breasts, the sleeves are full. The white wings too are prescribed issue; they are to keep [them] from seeing, but also from being seen.” (Attwood 9) Demonstrated through a Hand Offred red represents them all. The colours of Handmaids clothing proves their...

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