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Why is Color symbolism Important In Literature?

Why is color symbolism important?

Throughout life, we are influenced by colors. They are always around us and affect our feelings and thoughts more than we think. So the use of color can touch our different emotions and evoke them. Therefore, writers use color symbolism in their texts and poems.

The colors we see will directly influence our reaction to the environment. The psychological impact of colors on the human brain is based on the definitions we have placed in our lives over time. For example, red color is usually indicative of danger, while green color signifies safety. 

In short, I’m crazy about literature and in this article, we are going to examine the different color symbols we see daily around us.

What is color symbolism in literature

In literature, symbolism takes many forms, such as objects, images, shapes, and colors. Colors can have a special meaning in a written piece, which when used in a written piece can have an impact on a reader’s mood, ideas, and concepts.

In a culture or society, colors can have specific meanings or representations. So color symbolism must be interpreted within the context of culture, time, and context.

Why do writers use symbolism

At first, we should know how can color symbolism help writers.

The use of symbolism in literature is to make an action, an object, or a name meaningful by incorporating deeper meaning into them. A symbol is a concrete item that is linked to something else to give it greater significance.

By using symbols, writers can communicate with their readers without having to directly say what they mean. These indirect approaches help authors to create nuance and complexity. But for the symbol’s meaning to be believable, it must be supported by the rest of the story.

Symbolism is beneficial to creative writers and poets in these ways:

Common uses of color symbolism in literature

Setting the scene with color

If you use colors in writing, your audience will receive an impression of your work. For instance, the trees are green and brown, the sky is blue with a touch of white, the sea is pearlescent green. The elements will help your reader visualize your text or poem’s scenery as they read it.

When you write out your imagination through colors, you can create a shared experience with your reader. In other words, you can communicate effectively with readers by using colors in your writing.

Using color to evoke an emotive response

Colors can increase the emotional impact of poems by exuding emotions. Reading a poem can be affected by the colors a poet chooses by way of human emotion, vibrations, and experience.

For instance, conveying anger can be difficult when writing about the color blue. However well written, the story is likely to shift readers’ moods into a more subdued mood and draw a more somber response.

Writers who frequently use personal experiences in their work or often shift to storytelling may want to consider changing the color scheme to support the emotional response that they are seeking from the reader.

Using color to create ambiance or mood

In addition, colors contribute to creating an aura of perception that contributes to creating tone, intensity, and a sense of speed in your work. A color-infused ambiance can help guide readers through an experience through shifting narrative, rather than leading them in a hop-scotch through the story.

Color symbolism in different types of literature

Literature from all over the world has examined different colors and their meanings. Therefore in this paragraph, we want to know to learn about color symbolism in different cultures.

Color symbolism in French literature

In the 12th century, French poets and writers used only seven colors to express romance, characters, and emotions. These were: White, Red, Yellow, Blue, Green Black and Brown.

Color symbolism in Fairy tales

Due to the study of color symbolism, fairy tales are the best resources; examples include Red as blood, white as snow, black as a crow, etc. These elements evoke emotional reactions in children and make the story more relatable.

For example, color symbolism can be seen in Snow White; White visually represents Heaven, Red represents the spilling of blood and enticing yet poisonous apples, and Black represents rebirth and desire.

Color symbolism in Gothic literature

In Gothic literature, the colors red and black are highly symbolic as they really draw readers in and create an emotional response:

As a result, Gothic literature uses red and black for all its literary needs due to these emotional connections to these colors.

What do different colors symbolize

Now let’s see the color symbolism of each color in literature.

RedExcitement, energy, passion, love, desire, speed, strength, power, hotness, aggression, danger, fire, blood, war, violence, all things intense and passionate, sincerity, happiness (Only in Japan).
Pink Pink is associated with love, romance, tenderness, acceptance, and calmness.
Beige and ivorySymbolize unification. The ivory color symbolizes calmness and pleasantness. Beige symbolizes calmness and simplicity.
YellowIt symbolizes joy, happiness, betrayal, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold, philosophical thought, dishonesty, cowardice, jealousy, covetousness, deception, illness, hazard, and friendship.
Dark BlueIn a word, it signifies integrity, power, and seriousness.
BlueCalm, peace, tranquility, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence in conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, water, technology, depression, appetite suppressant.
TurquoiseSymbolizes calm. Teal is a symbol of sophistication. Aquamarine represents water. A lighter turquoise color has a feminine vibe.
PurpleRoyalty, noblesse, spirituality, ceremony, mysterious, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, honor, arrogance, mourning, temperance.
LavenderFeminine, graceful, elegant.
OrangeEnergy, balance, enthusiasm, warmth, expansiveness, flamboyance, demanding attention.
GreenNature, wellness, environment, health, renewal, youth, fertility, envy, inexperience, misfortune, vigor.
BrownA sense of stability, health, home, earth. outdoors, comfort, endurance, simplicity, and comfort.
GraySecurity, reliability, intelligence, staidness, modesty, dignity, maturity, solidity, conservatism, practicality, old age, sadness, boredom. Silver signifies tranquility.
WhiteReverence, purity, birth, simplicity, cleanliness, humility, precision, innocence, youth, winter, snow, good, sterility, marriage (in the West), death (in the East), or cold.
BlackStrength, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, evil, unhappiness, depth, style, sadness, regret, anger, anonymity, underground, good technical color, mourning, death (Western culture), austerity, detachment.
GoldGenerally speaking, gold symbolises wealth, money, or a lavish lifestyle. There are many instances of colour symbolism in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic ‘The Great Gatsby’. There is a connection between Gold and everything in this book. The color has corrupted the American dream in every way possible. It is the color of money and is often used to describe Jordan and Daisy, the “golden girl”

Examoles of Color Symbolism In Literature

Here are a few examples to help you better understand color symbolism in poems and literature.

The moon asked me, “What is yellow?”
Daffodils, I thought
too simple an answer
I remember yellow…
a ring with no promise
slinking down from glass box,
down the silver slide, spilling into
cupped hands
a sandy path between turtle and shrimp
such a vast expanse for tiny
who scrape and drag themselves home
a bucket without a handle,
too full to lift
a stuffed beagle with
saggy elephant ears
a braid falling to the floor
paint on the nose of the child
crying for something,
I remember yellow.
“Daffodils,” I answered,
and the moon crept away
to whisper to the stars.

-The Moon and Daffodils, Christina M. Ward

I have gathered church steeples,
racemes of yellow Agrimonia,
as many as I can carry
It is not enough, I think
The butterflies and sun
follow me. We leave a
tender trail,
thankfulness, our meditation
I slide the ends under
cool waters, nip the ends
stems clogging the drain
You stir in your sleep,
a gasp, a wheeze
I am filled with hope, for you
for these — may their radiance
inspire your lungs to lift
searching the air for oxygen
as your eyes search for yellow
thankful, one more day

-Agrimonia, Christina M. Ward

Well, I’m gon’ paint my picture
Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray
All of the beautiful colors are very, very meaningful
Yeah, well, you know gray is my favorite color
I felt so symbolic yesterday
If I knew Picasso
I would buy myself a gray guitar and play

-Mr. Jones, Song by Counting Crows, lyricist Adam Duritz


Color has been a part of stories since the very beginning. Writing and poetry use colors to establish a concrete picture of their characters and scenes. language itself embodies symbols, whether verbal or written. Therefore the use of color symbolism in literature gives words more meaning, thereby turning the written content into a more effective instrument. Also, if you are interested in color psychology and want to know more about the meaning of colors, you can read this article.


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