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How Colors are Incorporated in Writing to Depict Different Moods

To write effectively is to make your readers be present in your story and feel the mood of the story’s setting. Color symbolism is one such element that has been used in literature over many years, either to describe the spirit of the environment or to influence readers’ moods. Symbolism allows the author to convey a message to the reader without directly saying it. In this article, we discuss how some colors are used to symbolize the mood of the setting.

Red: The use of red can symbolize two moods, and each of these moods is the complete opposite to the other. One is the feeling of love, and the other is the feeling of anger. It depends on the scenario. While a red rose would be used to profess love, a room painted red would symbolize the bitterness between the two parties in that room. Red also indicates danger. This can be seen best in Shirley Jackson’s book The Haunting of Hill House, where each room in Hill House is painted a particular color and is named after that color. While all rooms are occupied, the Red Room remains unoccupied and is surrounded by suspense and a sense of looming danger. 

Green: Like red, green can symbolize two moods, each the opposite of the other. One is the feeling of jealousy, and the other is one of harmony. To see red is to feel immense anger and to see green is to be entirely consumed by jealousy. Green is also the color of nature. Therefore, it is symbolic of harmony and growth as well. The two symbolic meanings of green are so distinct, and thus to understand the symbolism to its full extent, one needs to understand the context first.

Blue: The color blue symbolizes a depressive mood. Feeling blue means being depressed or gloomy. Splashes of blue in the scene would set the grim mood. In the movie Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind, the character Clementine colors her hair according to her spirit. Therefore, when she is going through a depressive phase, she changes her hair to blue, the color reflecting her inner battle.

Black: Black is always associated with darkness and evil. A morally grey character will be seen wearing black to symbolize the darkness within them. Professor Snape from the Harry Potter books always wears black, therefore, portraying his inner darkness. Black also symbolizes death and despair. Even the Grim Reaper is known to be an all-black-wearing hooded figure. Black signifies the amalgamation of all negative emotions since darkness is where evil thrives.

White: White symbolizes purity and peace. Since it is devoid of all colors, it symbolizes innocence and purity. For example, a little girl wearing a white dress would represent childhood innocence. The white color would reflect that childhood innocence is not yet tarnished, just like white is devoid of all color and is entirely pure.

Psychology plays an integral part in the use of color symbolism. The use of color in writing invokes the same emotions in the readers as the characters in the story. Therefore, using color symbolism as a literary device is truly an efficient way of reaching your audience in the most subtle way possible.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Manik Chaturmutha