Exploring the Meaning: What Does Blue Symbolize in Literature?

Blue is much more than just a color. In fact, it’s a symbol that has been used in literature for centuries. It represents a range of emotions and concepts that speak volumes about the human experience. Whether it’s the soothing calmness of a serene blue sky or the melancholic sadness of a blue ocean, blue carries an inherent meaning that goes beyond its physical form.

Throughout history, blue has been used to symbolize many different things. In ancient Egypt and Greece, it represented the gods and the heavens. In Christianity, it stands for the Virgin Mary and a sense of purity. In modern times, it’s often associated with the concept of trust and stability. However, it’s important to note that the meaning of blue can vary depending on the context in which it’s used. From sadness and depression to loyalty and faithfulness, blue is an incredibly versatile symbol that can evoke many different emotions in readers.

Blue as a symbol of sadness or melancholy

In literature, the color blue is often associated with sadness, melancholy, or a sense of loss. This is because the color blue has a calming effect on the mind and emotions, but can also evoke feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The use of blue as a symbol for sadness can be traced back to ancient Greek mythology, where the god Zeus was said to have blue tears when he wept for his son Sarpedon.

  • In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the character Ophelia wears a dress “with its sleeves pulled down over her hands like she has something to hide.” The dress is described as “fantastically cut in blue satin,” symbolizing her inner sadness and madness.
  • In Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, the color blue is used to describe the protagonist’s emotional state. When Jane is depressed, her thoughts are said to be “tinged with the odious hue of envy.”
  • In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby, the character Jay Gatsby is said to have “blue eyes…with a sort of ecstatic expression” which reflects his longing and sadness.
  • Moreover, blue is often used to depict sadness or melancholy in visual arts such as paintings and photographs. One of the most famous examples is probably Pablo Picasso’s painting, The Old Guitarist, which features an old, blind man playing a guitar in shades of blue and blue-green.

    Artist Artwork Description
    Vincent Van Gogh Starry Night The painting depicts the view from Van Gogh’s asylum room and features a blue night sky swirling with stars and cypress trees.
    Edvard Munch The Scream The iconic painting shows a person screaming against a blood-red sky and a blue-green sea, symbolizing the scream of nature.
    Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa The famous portrait features a woman with an enigmatic smile that hints at her inner sadness and melancholy.

    Overall, blue’s association with sadness or melancholy in literature and art is a testament to its timeless appeal and ability to evoke deep emotions in the human psyche.

    Blue as a symbol of calmness or tranquility

    In literature, the color blue is often used to symbolize calmness or tranquility. This serene hue brings a sense of peace and serenity to the reader. When confronted with chaotic and hectic scenes, the color blue is used to provide a breath of fresh air and to calm the mind. It is a color that soothes the soul and puts the mind at ease.

    • In The Great Gatsby, the color blue is used to represent the peaceful and virtuous world of Jay Gatsby’s love interest, Daisy. Her clothing, eyes, and other possessions are all characterized by their blue color, emphasizing her peaceful and calm nature.
    • Similarly, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams,” the blue sky and blue water serve as symbols of the protagonist’s desire for tranquility and escape.
    • Another example is Anne of Green Gables when Anne’s obsession with surrounding herself with the color blue brings a sense of stability and calmness to her tumultuous life.

    The use of blue can also be seen in religious literature, where it symbolizes a serene state of being. In Hinduism, blue is thought to represent the divine realm and is associated with the god Vishnu, who is often depicted as wearing blue garments.

    The calming and tranquil effects of the color blue are also evident in studies of color psychology. The color blue is believed to have a calming effect on the human mind, reducing stress and anxiety levels. This is the reason why many hospitals and healthcare facilities use blue as their dominant color, to promote a sense of calm and relaxation in their patients.

    Positive Connotations of Blue Negative Connotations of Blue
    Trust Depression
    Reliability Coldness
    Calmness Aloofness
    Serene Isolation
    Peaceful Sadness

    In conclusion, blue is a color that symbolizes calmness and tranquility in literature. Whether it is used to represent a peaceful character or a serene environment, blue brings a sense of serenity to the reader and has a calming effect on the mind. Its effects are not limited to literature: in design, color psychology, and even healthcare, the color blue is universally recognized for its calming and healing properties.

    Blue as a Symbol of Trust or Loyalty

    Blue is often referred to as the color of trust and loyalty in literature. It is commonly used to represent feelings of comfort, honesty, and stability. This is because blue is a calming color that can evoke a sense of security and dependability.

    In literature, blue is often used as a symbol of trust and loyalty, especially in relationships. For example, a character may wear a blue shirt or tie to convey their loyalty to a partner or loved one. Similarly, a blue sky may represent a sense of calm and peace in a character’s life.

    • Blue can also symbolize reliability and consistency. This is why many brands use blue in their logos to convey a sense of trustworthiness.
    • In literature, the phrase “true blue” is often used to describe someone who is loyal and dependable.
    • Blue can also represent sadness and melancholy, which can be a sign of loyalty to a lost loved one or cause.

    Blue is also often associated with water, which can represent life, purification, and renewal. This is why blue is often used in literature to convey a sense of hope and healing.

    Examples of Blue as a Symbol of Trust or Loyalty in Literature
    The “blue robe” worn by Ma Joad in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” symbolizes her loyalty to her family and her strength as a matriarch.
    In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the blue eyes of the character Jay Gatsby represent his unwavering loyalty to his lost love, Daisy.
    The “blue-eyed boy” in Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy” symbolizes the speaker’s desire for a loyal and dependable lover.

    In conclusion, blue is a powerful symbol in literature that represents trust, loyalty, and dependability. It is often used to convey feelings of comfort, honesty, and stability in relationships. Whether in a character’s clothing or in the sky above, the color blue is a powerful tool for writers to convey emotions and themes in their stories.

    Blue as a Symbol of the Ocean or Water

    In literature, blue is often used as a symbol of the ocean or water. As one of the primary colors of water, blue is commonly associated with the calmness, serenity, and purity of the ocean. It represents the vastness of the sea and the infinity of the water. Blue can also symbolize the unknown depths of the ocean and the mysteries that lie beneath it.

    • Blue as a symbol of tranquility: The color blue is often used to create a sense of calmness and tranquility in literature. It represents the stillness of the water and the peacefulness of the ocean. This symbolism is often used in poetry and prose to evoke a sense of serenity and relaxation in the reader.
    • Blue as a symbol of purity: Blue is also associated with purity and cleanliness, often used to represent the clear and pristine waters of the ocean. This symbolism can be seen in many pieces of literature, where the color blue is used to describe the unspoiled beauty of the ocean and its surroundings.
    • Blue as a symbol of infinity: The color blue can also represent the vastness and infinity of the ocean. It symbolizes the limitless possibilities and opportunities that lie within the vast expanse of the sea.

    In addition to these symbolic meanings, blue can also represent the power and strength of the ocean. It can signify the intensity and unpredictability of the water, as well as the potential danger that lies beneath its surface. In literature, blue is often used to create a sense of tension and suspense, representing the turbulent waters and the stormy sea.

    Examples of Blue as a Symbol of the Ocean or Water in Literature
    “The sea was blue like the sky, and the sky was blue like the sea. It was hard to tell where one began and the other ended.” – The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
    “The water was a deep blue, almost black, and it looked as though it was bottomless. He felt a sense of awe and fear as he looked out at the endless sea.” – Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    “She gazed out at the vast expanse of the ocean, her eyes fixated on the deep blue water. She felt a sense of calmness wash over her, as if the tranquil waters were calling out to her.” – The Awakening by Kate Chopin

    Overall, blue is a powerful symbol in literature, representing the ocean and water in all its different forms. It can evoke a sense of calmness, purity, infinity, power, and danger, depending on the context in which it is used.

    Blue as a Symbol of Heaven or Spirituality

    Blue’s association with the sky has led to it being interpreted as a symbol for heaven in literature. It has also been used to represent spirituality and the divine. Here are some examples:

    • In William Blake’s poem “The Tyger,” the “skies” are depicted with the color blue, adding to the idea of it being a symbol for heaven or a higher power.
    • The blue lotus flower in Hinduism symbolizes the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds, with the color blue representing the divine and the lotus representing the physical world.
    • In Virginia Woolf’s novel “To the Lighthouse,” the painting created by a character, Lily, features a blue triangle, which was interpreted by literary critics as a symbol for spirituality.

    Aside from these literary works, blue has also been used in religious art across many cultures to portray the divine realm. For instance, blue often appears in Christian art as the color of the Virgin Mary’s robes, signifying her heavenly status. Similarly, Buddhist art employs the color blue to highlight the enlightened state of certain figures, such as in paintings of Medicine Buddha.

    Culture/Religion Meaning of Blue
    Christianity Heaven, Virgin Mary
    Buddhism Enlightenment, Medicine Buddha
    Hinduism Spirituality, connection to the divine
    Islam Divine protection, purity

    Overall, blue’s association with the sky and water has made it a popular symbol for heaven, spirituality, and the divine in literature. It has also been used in religious art across cultures to represent the divine realm and higher states of being.

    Blue as a Symbol of Royalty or Nobility

    Throughout history, blue has been a color closely associated with royalty and nobility. This is due, in part, to the rarity of natural blue pigments, which were difficult and expensive to obtain in earlier times. As a result, blue textiles and clothing were reserved for the wealthy and powerful, and blue dye was a symbol of status and prestige.

    In literature, blue is often used to represent these same concepts. Blue clothing or jewelry is frequently worn by characters who are members of the aristocracy or upper class. It is also used to indicate a character’s wealth or power, as well as their moral purity or dignity. In some cases, blue is even used to symbolize divine or noble origins.

    • In Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” the character Miranda wears a blue gown when she is first introduced. This serves to indicate her noble birth and status as the daughter of a sorcerer.
    • In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the character Daisy Buchanan is often pictured wearing blue dresses or surrounded by blue objects. This is meant to emphasize her elevated social status and her position as an object of desire for the novel’s protagonist.
    • The famous fairy tale character Cinderella is often depicted wearing a blue dress, which serves to symbolize her innate goodness and purity, as well as her eventual rise to royalty.

    Of course, as with any symbol in literature, the use of blue to represent royalty or nobility is not universal. It is important to consider the context in which the color is used, as well as other potential meanings that it may carry within a particular work.

    Examples of Blue as a Symbol of Royalty or Nobility in Literature
    “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare
    “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    “Cinderella” fairy tale

    Overall, blue’s association with royalty and nobility has been a long-standing tradition in both history and literature. Whether it is used to signify wealth, power, or moral superiority, the color remains a powerful symbol of status and prestige.

    Blue as a symbol of coldness or isolation

    In literature, blue has been used to symbolize coldness, isolation, and even sadness. Its association with sadness can be traced back to the phrase “feeling blue” which means feeling sad or depressed.

    Blue can also symbolize a sense of detachment or isolation, as it is the color of the sky and sea, both vast and endless. When a character is depicted wearing blue clothes or surrounded by a blue environment, it can signify a feeling of being lost or disconnected.

    • In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the character of Jay Gatsby is often depicted wearing blue, symbolizing his yearning for something unattainable and his isolation from the social elite he desires to be a part of.
    • In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield often wears a red hunting cap, but the cover of the novel portrays a blue skyline, symbolizing Holden’s longing for connection and his inability to find it.
    • The protagonist of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is confined to a room with blue wallpaper, representing her gradual detachment from reality and the outside world.

    Furthermore, blue can also represent a sense of coldness or detachment. When used to describe characters or their behaviors, it can imply emotional distance or a lack of empathy.

    Example Description
    Meursault in Albert Camus’ The Stranger Meursault’s emotionless behavior is often described as “cold” or “blue”.
    The White Witch in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe The Witch’s icy palace is described as “as cold as ice and as still as a frozen lake” with her demeanor matching the frigid environment.

    In conclusion, blue is a widely recognized symbol in literature, often used to represent a sense of coldness or isolation. It is a color that can evoke strong emotions and convey deeper meanings about characters and their circumstances.

    Blue as a symbol of distance or inaccessibility

    Blue has been a long-standing symbol of distance and inaccessibility in literature. The color’s association with the sky and water often reinforces the idea of vastness and infinite space. Blue can also be seen as a symbol of emptiness and loneliness.

    • In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the character Jay Gatsby often gazes at a green light across the water, which is described as “minute and far away.” The green light serves as a symbol of hope and desire, but the blue distance reinforces the idea that Gatsby’s dream is unattainable.
    • Similarly, Samuel Beckett’s play “Endgame” features a character named Hamm who is confined to a wheelchair and cannot stand up. Hamm often looks out of a small window at the “gray void” outside, which adds to the sense of his isolation and separation from the outside world.
    • Blue is also used in poetry to represent emotions such as sadness and melancholy. In “Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens, the blue of the sky is described as “cold,” which adds to the tone of mourning and regret.

    Blue’s association with distance and inaccessibility can also be seen in the physical world. When objects are far away, they often appear blue due to the scattering of light in the Earth’s atmosphere. This phenomenon is known as Rayleigh scattering and is used in astronomy to gauge the distance of stars and planets.

    Author Title Quote
    Brian Andreas Traveling Light Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in.
    Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse The windowpanes reflected apples, reflected roses; all the leaves were green in the glass. If they wished to go to the lighthouse, they must be off. And they would have to hurry. “Would the wind last? He thought not. So that meant going in the morning. But it was appalling, the sense of exclusion, of being caged in.
    Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye But beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.

    Overall, blue as a symbol of distance or inaccessibility can be interpreted in various ways in literature, from representing unattainable dreams to physical separations from the world. As with any symbol, its meaning may vary depending on the context in which it is used.

    Blue as a symbol of mystery or the unknown

    Many writers throughout history have used the color blue to represent mystery, the unknown, or the enigmatic. Here are some examples of how the color blue is represented in literature:

    • In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, the color blue is often associated with Hester Prynne’s daughter, Pearl. Pearl is considered an enigmatic and mysterious character who has always been an enigma to the villagers.
    • William Shakespeare often used the color blue in his plays to convey the unknown or the mysterious. In his play The Winter’s Tale, he refers to “the blue-eyed god” to suggest mysterious and supernatural powers.
    • Virginia Woolf used the color blue in her novel, Mrs. Dalloway, to convey the unknown, mysterious, and elusive nature of Clarissa Dalloway’s emotions and thoughts.

    Aside from literature, blue is also considered a symbol of the unknown in cultural and religious contexts. For instance, the ‘Blue Kachina’ is believed to represent the coming of a new world among the Hopi people, while in ancient Egypt, blue was the color of the god Amun, who represented the unknown or the hidden.

    Blue has a long history of being associated with the minatory and the ambiguous. For example, in some cultures, blue is related to the paranormal and the supernatural. The color is also said to have a calming and soothing effect on the mind, making it a popular color for meditation and relaxation.

    Color Symbolism
    Blue Mystery, the unknown, the enigmatic, the supernatural
    Red The passionate, the dangerous, the intense
    Green The natural, the tranquil, the abundant

    In conclusion, blue has been used extensively throughout literature to signify the enigmatic and the mysterious. With its association with the paranormal, supernatural, and the hidden, it’s no surprise that it’s been given such significance in art and culture.

    Blue as a symbol of power or authority.

    Blue is often associated with power, authority, and royalty. In literature, it is used to represent a range of figures with varying levels of power. Here are some examples:

    • The Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz features a group of vampire families who hold immense power and influence over society. Their blue blood is an indication of their status.
    • In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the blue robes worn by members of the Order of the Phoenix represent their authority and power in the magical world.
    • The blue sky in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea represents the vastness of power and authority in nature.

    Additionally, blue is frequently used to evoke feelings of stability and control. Politicians often wear blue ties or suits to demonstrate their authority and sense of responsibility. Blue represents trust, dependability, and loyalty, which are all characteristics of a powerful and authoritative figure.

    In a study conducted by the Pantone Color Institute, blue was named the most popular color among both men and women. The color is often associated with intelligence, confidence, and professionalism, further emphasizing its connection to authority and power. It is no wonder that blue is a prevalent symbol in literature and everyday life.

    Here is a table summarizing some of the common associations with blue in literature:

    Symbol Meaning
    Blue sky Power and authority in nature
    Blue blood Status and power
    Blue robes/clothing Authority and control in society/magic

    As you can see, blue is a potent symbol when it comes to representing power and authority in literature. It is often used to convey a sense of stability, confidence, and trustworthiness, making it an ideal choice for characters with significant roles and responsibilities.

    What Does Blue Symbolize in Literature?


    1. What does blue represent in literature?
    In literature, blue is often associated with sadness, depression, and melancholy. It can also symbolize tranquility, calmness, and peace.

    2. What are some famous literary works that use blue as a symbol?
    One example is “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, where the blue eyes of the character Jay Gatsby represent unattainable dreams and desires. Another example is “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane, where the blue color symbolizes fear and despair.

    3. Can blue also symbolize hope or optimism in literature?
    Yes, blue can be associated with hope and optimism in literature, such as in the novel “The Blue Flower” by Penelope Fitzgerald.

    4. Is blue only used as a symbol in literature or is it used in other forms of art as well?
    Blue is a common symbol in other forms of art, including painting, photography, and film. It can convey a variety of emotions and ideas depending on the context.

    5. Can the shade of blue used in literature affect its symbolism?
    Yes, different shades of blue can convey different symbols and meanings. For example, a light blue might symbolize calmness and serenity, while a dark blue might represent sadness or negative emotions.

    6. Are there any cultural differences in the symbolism of blue in literature?
    Yes, the symbolism of blue can vary across different cultures. For example, in China, blue is associated with immortality and longevity, while in Western culture, it is more commonly associated with sadness and depression.

    7. Why is the symbolism of blue important in literature?
    The symbolism of blue adds depth and meaning to literary works, allowing readers to interpret and analyze the text on a deeper level. It can evoke emotions and create a more powerful impact on the reader.

    Closing Thoughts:

    Thank you for taking the time to learn about what blue symbolizes in literature. As you can see, it can have a variety of meanings depending on the context and cultural background. We hope you visit again soon to learn more about the symbolism in different forms of art.