I do not quite recollect when I started translating different concepts into colors. Was it when I was eating something, and the color popped up in my head along with taste, or was it when I was in middle school and thought about different subjects in color.
It did not seem important though – nothing extraordinary.
Most of my geography and history textbooks were orange, so I connected them with this color. The sciences like biology and ecology dealing with the earth processes were green. The summer, with the leaves on the trees and vibrant life everywhere, was green, and the winter with its innocent teary snow was white – you get the idea, right?
The situation turned to be “ intriguing” when the scheme started deviating from the original one. Products like the meat and cheese rich in flavor seemed blue to me, while salad appeared to be violet. Moreover, I have not even noticed when I developed a particular color palette for each of my family members. The abstract concepts like liberty, loyalty, and love also gained their color meanings.
It was weird, but I did not give it much of a thought. I decided that it was a trivial brain processing occurring in everyone.
However, one day, I read a novel about a girl who showed similar world perception signs. Furthermore, reading an analysis of the story, I’ve learned that she was a “synesthete” – a person who connects with the world through different senses. Thus certain sounds, smells, words, and objects can evoke a color association, and that is just one of the multiple examples of synesthesia.
I cannot say that this information changed my whole life nor the perception of myself. However, it did change the way I think and digest the information. For instance, I found out that dividing historical periods by color proved to be incredibly useful. It is like you have a library in your memory where specific topics pop out right away, like searching a particular word in a document.
Thus the fight for liberty became orange, wars and massacres – grey, and political intrigues – purple. This library started gaining its complexity with the different color shades where the extreme and vivid events seemed brighter, while the least important, controversial, or just simply lacking knowledge seemed bleaker.
But does the same works with literature?
Reflecting on Great Expectations, I usually think about purple. It feels reasonable since the narration circulates around dignity and integrity, wealth and social status, romance and compassion, with a pinch of mystery.
However, what I find weird, that purple does not reveal the “genuineness” for me.
I will explain.
Though we see an absolutely charming, naive, and honest protagonist (whom I cannot resist but mention again), the romance, people, and even surroundings – all of them seem artificial.
As a reader, I could not comprehend Pip’s feelings for Estella, the girl he claims he felt for. I always wonder if he loved her or the image she created for him as an independent, confident, elegant, with high standards and social status dream-like lady. Despite all her cruelty and injustice, Pip feels an unconditional love that he cannot abandon, and I cannot understand.
Moreover, many people seem here more like doll puppets. And I do not suggest that they are spiritless and without any character. Absolutely not! Dickens does a wonderful job of developing complex and unforgettable personalities. Please, don’t get me wrong here. All I am trying to point out is that all of them are trying to be what they are not. It is an excellent play of pretending, so do not get surprised by multiple theater references.
“The whole world – theatre, and the people in it – the actors.”William Shakespeare
The mysterious Satis House, full of frustration and the crashed hopes for a happy future, shares something odd as well. It just does not seem natural. Of course, the deadly-like atmosphere and the gothic architecture make their job perfectly, but it instead feels that the gloom comes from the weakness of the owner of the house. And this idea is revealed at the end when she, Ms. Havisham, got her revenge without any sparkle of enjoyment – she never wanted that.
Was it just a pointless game to give herself another meaning to live?
Purple or violet colors were historically scarce in nature and cost enormously. It seems quite logical now that it usually suggests power, glory, luxury, or spirituality – only the wealthy could afford it. But in the current world, purple is available as much as any other color, which suggests that it just lost a part of its meaning. That might be an explanation as to why, despite all the qualities mentioned above, purple seems shadowy and unclear.
But it is just a guess or the way to explain how my mind works.