Instructor: Shuyuan Liu
ESL015, Section 016
The Million Shades of Red
What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you see the color red? What is the meaning of the color red for you?
Scientifically, ‘Red’ is a color that can be seen at the end of the visible spectrum. It has the wavelength of 610nm to 780nm. But Red is so much more than that.
Unparalleled in its versatility, this color holds the potential to convey completely opposite and disjointed ideas and concepts such as love and hate. It is the color of extremes- Love and longing, and Wrath and violence. Red symbolizes fire, passion, attention, blood, and warmth. It is capable of representing many more abstractions. A single color has the strength to enable us to realize a number of different and deep emotions very powerfully.
No color can do more justice to celebrations of love than the color Red. Be it Valentine’s day, marriage anniversaries, or even birthdays, red hearts, balloons, and roses are the first pictures that come to mind. Red stands to exemplify lust, seduction, …and Love. On the other hand, when we think of wrath, anger, revenge, bloodshed, and fire, we again find ourselves associating these emotions with the shades of Red. Another popular example of this is in the phrase “caught red-handed”, that associated red with crime, sin, and murder.
Red is a potent tool to instill a sense of fear and agony and at the same time to establish the warmth of love, comfort, and passion.
Red is also the color of intensity and energy. It symbolizes strength and leadership, with courage, vibrancy, and vigor. Red flows in our blood when we are determined to take action and strive for success. Red is a dynamic color that signifies a pioneering spirit who is ready to fulfill his ambitions and wants to ‘paint the world red’. It is the color that catches the eye most easily, Red is used in places where it is required to signal danger or threat of any sort. This is why traffic signals and the stop signs on the streets and crossroads are usually red.
In many cultures, the color Red plays an important role. For example, in Hinduism, Red is associated with the fiery goddess Durga and incites fear and devotion. It also stands for purity and is the color of the bride’s garment on her wedding day, complete with red bangles, bindi and ‘sindoor’. ‘Sindoor’ is a bright red powder that an Indian groom puts in the partition of his bride’s hair at their wedding ceremony. The bride puts it on for her husband’s long and healthy life. Wearing red is said to bring prosperity, good health, and fertility to the bride. In Islam, red stands for heroism, sacrifice, and courage. However, it is also said to be wrong for men and women to wear this color alone because their Prophet prohibited this practice. In Christianity, Red is associated with the blood of Christ and the sacrifice of martyrs, along with some negative connotations. In the Catholic Bible, ‘Wrath’ is one of the seven deadly sins and the color red is often used to portray it. It is also the color of all the bad, the dark, the evil- The Devil.
In essence, the color Red is representative of hundreds of conflicting emotions and sentiments. Apart from this, it plays a vital role in numerous religions, cultures, and traditions. It has infinite connotations and endless senses in various aspects of this world. This color has many shades, each carrying millions of thoughts and meanings with it. ‘The million shades of Red’ have always been and will continue to be an integral part of our lives, cultures, and celebrations.