Tuesday, April 12, 2011
What color is your character?
I’ve written about the use of color before, but it can also provide a touch of characterization, a visual flourish, when different colors are linked with different characters.
In V. C. Andrews’ My Sweet Audrina, the titular character is a troubled young girl who can’t remember much of what’s happened to her in the past. She’s usually dressed in white or violet. White is the color of innocence, but in this case it comes off as a blank slate as well, and violet symbolizes indecision because it’s neither blue nor red.
Antoinette, the protagonist of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, loves colors as vivid as the tropics where she lives. Her favorite dress is red, “the color of fire and sunset. The color of flamboyant flowers.” But the man she is coerced into marrying prefers her in virginal white, a bleached color with no passion in it. This also works because the moral judgment – linked with the symbolism of the colors – comes from the antagonist rather than from the author.
And in the movie Heathers, the colors of the characters’ croquet balls are just as significant – the head of the clique uses a red ball, the royal color of leadership, while the next in line for that position has a green ball, signifying envy, and so on.
I love symbolism. So in Before the Storm, Alex is called the Black Mare, wears a black dress when she first meets the hero and uses a black ribbon as a bookmark. That’s not a warm or happy color. It implies danger, both of the sinister sorcerous variety (think Snape or Raistlin) and the seductive kind. Bad girls wear black.
Watch for nuances, though. Violet doesn’t carry the same connotations as purple, so it may sound more normal for a king to wear royal purple than to wear royal violet. And the names of colors should take geography and history into account. The color ultramarine didn’t come into use until the year 1598, and a world without a certain painter is also unlikely to call a woman’s hair Titian.
What color is your main character?
Image from : http://www.jupiterimages.com/Image/royaltyFree/95588442