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Imagery in The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

             When exploring symbols in any novel, there are several different functions these symbols .
             In the novel The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood many of the symbols are used .
             as literary ironic elements. Atwood carefully chooses her symbols in The Handmaid's Tale to .
             portray the many contradictions that are present in the Gilead Society. By using the symbols .
             ironically, the reader recognizes a deeper meaning behind them. More importantly, insight is .
             gained on why these ironic symbols work so well in the novel. The symbols that show a large .
             amount of irony in The Handmaid's Tale vary from setting, to clothing, to spoken language. The .
             location of the novel, set in what used to be Harvard University, along with the Handmaid's given .
             colour of red and the massive amount of Bible imagery, it is simple to understand the ironic and .
             paradoxical meaning behind these subtle yet significant symbols.
             An initial symbol that is introduced early on in the novel is that the Handmaids are all .
             dressed in red. Once the reader discovers what the Handmaids' purpose is in the Gilead Society .
             the colour seems appropriate and fitting. Red is the colour of fertility, fruitfulness, and bears .
             imagery of menstruation. For Handmaids, becoming pregnant is the objective, with no romance .
             whatsoever involved. Nevertheless red is also the colour of sex, passion, desire, romance and of .
             course - sexual sin. In a society where such affairs are forbidden it seems as though the .
             Handmaids are being teased by being given such a sensuous colour that they may not be .
             comfortable in. Having the colour-code of the Handmaids be red shows extreme irony in the sense .
             that Handmaids are strictly forbidden to engage in any sexual encounters other than with the .
             commander, and are also denied any romance since their duty is simply to produce offspring. " I .
             used to think of my body as an instrument, of pleasure, or a means of transportation.

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