Colors in Literature

In literature, certain events represent certain things and the colors that show up in the events can symbolize the meanings of those events.

Red is often used in gothic literature to symbolize passion, aggression and intensity. Because of its dangerous connotation, red has been used in novels such as Jane Eyre  for dramatic effect. When Jane is locked in the red room, she faints out of fear of a ghost.

Black is also a color used in gothic literature to symbolize death, ¬†power, mystery, and fear. Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” makes use of a black bird to symbolize death.

Green, similarly to in room decoration and psychology, symbolizes nature and relaxation. It can also, in literature symbolize guilt. In The Lord of the Flies, green is used to represent innocence and immaturity. The children on the island are innocent, and surrounded by nature.

Yellow is a joyous, intellectual color. It also represents loyalty. In Catcher in the Rye , Holden describes himself as “yellow” when he means that he is cowardly.

In literature, blue is used to draw a positive response and represents calmness and peace. However, much like in other aspects of color application, blue can also symbolize depression and sadness.

Pink in literature can symbolize romance, love, friendship, and positivity.

White represents innocence and purity, as in almost all other applications of colors.

Similarly to red, orange symbolizes lust and fire.


2 thoughts on “Colors in Literature

  1. I think this technique is so cool. Personally, when I read a book I always see things like this as coincidence instead of symbolism because it just seems like it would be so much work to constantly put symbolism into your writing, but now I’m thinking something else. First of all, I’m sure some authors really try to put in symbolism and do use these colors very carefully. Secondly, even if it was a coincidence, the author is still influenced by the psychology of colors, so it’s basically symbolism anyway, which I think is pretty cool.

  2. I think that the symbolism of color in literature is so important. It is an easy way for writers to send subliminal messages to their readers and guide their feelings about certain characters and things. Poe does it in the Raven and many authors do it consistently. We all interpret color in certain ways that people can use to express ideas. Even in the design of book covers, color is important to attract readers. Really, color plays a role in every single thing we do, often without us even noticing.

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