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Use of Color in Literature

How has the use of color in literature changed, especially in more recent works? Our tv shows and movies are closely edited, digitally graded, and dominated by blue and orange. We over-edit our "candid" photos, dimming the colors to look retro or cranking up the contrast. Do we see a similar trend in written descriptions?

Has the symbolism behind colors changed? Has the use of certain color symbolism been reduced as the result of changing trends?

As our literature becomes divided into increasingly smaller genres and subgenres, is the use of color similarly divided? Thrillers will always be "darker" than romances, of course, but are there other trends in symbolism, shades, etc?

  • I love this topic because there is so much symbolism in color, and it does change depending on how you use it. One fun fact you might explore: many colors symbolize different things depending on what part of the spectrum they are from. For example, in the 1995 remake of A Little Princess, director Alfonso Curan used many different shades of green. Warmer greens (jungle, lime, Kelly) were meant to convey the beauty of India, Sara's warm personality, etc. Colder, darker greens (gray-green, hunter, olive) were used on the attic, to convey Miss Minchin's harshness, etc. – Stephanie M. 4 years ago
  • I find it interesting that, although many people claim to understand symbolism, they often won't notice many important clues to a story given (indirectly) through colours because they aren't highlighted for them. When I started studying Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire", my teacher at A Level told me that Williams is brilliant because he seems to never waste a word, and as the play's original title was in fact "Primary Colours", there is plenty of important context hidden behind colours. Williams is definitely one of the writing worth looking into; his use of imagery is sublime! – kristinagreta 4 years ago

The Use of Color Symbolically in Film

Following its introduction into mass media with The Wizard of Oz, color has played an important role in films, with filmmakers intentionally choosing colors to symbolize different elements in their pieces. Analyze pieces such as The Sixth Sense, which uses color to foreshadow the ending revelation, or Moulin Rogue, which uses color to symbolize the different areas of the city.

  • I think this is a really interesting topic, since it's something we don't normally take notice to right away when watching a movie. I also think it would be worth talking about how films also use complementary colors to help establish relationships between characters too. An example of this might be a couple where a man is wearing an orange tie, and the woman a blue shirt. – BlueJayy 6 years ago
  • Pleasantville (1998) also uses colour to symbolize change, as the townsfolk either have a sexual awakening or develop an interest in something that evokes a strong emotion. – YsabelGo 6 years ago
  • This topic is a great one and definitely deserves more discussion! Arguably some of the most visually striking and symbolic uses of color in film have been Stanley Kubrick's infatuation with RED. Seen throughout his films, and having a spectrum of ambiguity, Kubrick fully utilized not only the purpose of color, but the psychological effect it could have on the audience. – luminousgloom 6 years ago
  • I agree with Luminousgloom. Kubrick's movies are really complex. his movies need careful scrutiny. your topic is rich so need more time and precise information. – Elahe Almasi 6 years ago
  • This is a really great topic, one made even more interesting, I think, by the use of filters that can subtly enhance or diminish particular colors. In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, for example, the blues are unbelievably vivid, while the remaining colors are largely unchanged (a lomo like effect). Subtle, almost undetectable changes are a great way to "color" the viewer's experience without perceptually hammering an effect home. – jjmarler 5 years ago