Color Symbolism In Selected Novels Essay, Research Paper
Marie de France uses several symbolic objects in her stories to get the point across. Sometimes what is the simplest object can have a thousands meanings. Whether you’re talking about trees to the color of an article of clothing, there was a reason, a purpose for making it a weeping willow or a red scarf. You need to look deep within the story line and fine it’s true meaning. In Yonec, Laustic and Milun, see the usage of birds, especially that of a swan. But why use birds? For the reasons that birds symbolize so many things such as love and romance, purity and redemption and forgiveness and the chance to start over.
In Yonec and Laustic, both show extra-martial love, all incorporate the obvious and certain affair of the unmarried lover, an unhappily married woman. In Yonec I was reminded of a children fairy tale, “Rumplestilskin”. In the story, when she is released to go outside, she sees a shadow of a large bird. Then it flew into the room and resembled a hawk of five or six moultings. Then birds lands in from of the lady and transforms itself into a fair and noble knight. The hawk represents a noble bird. Meaning that secrets remain secret but be assured that it will help you in your time of need. The hawk is also brown so this probably also is creating an atmosphere of gloom and danger which happens in the end because she is denied the love she has always wanted. So there is both the nobility of the hawk, but also the foretelling of what is to come.
In a Laustic, the birds are depicted here as being joyful, sweet but the married wife uses a nightingale to send out messages to her loved one. The usage of the nightingale suggests that she does not know the joys of the world, that she has been unfortunate to be relieved of pain. A nightingale usually symbolizes yearning and pain and in Christianity it symbolizes longing for heaven. In which case would be the love she holds for another.
In Milun, a swan is used as a messenger. A swan represents a transformation, as in from “ugly duckling’ into a beautiful swan. It also symbolizes loyalty and fidelity, which is why she uses it as a letter carrier to her love. The color of the swan is another important factor. The whiteness of the swan depicts scenes of tranquility and purity.
The usage of color and of birds can be spotted out in this book fairly easily and it is this that makes the birds and colors so important for understanding why Marie de France uses them.
Ibanez, Vincente B. Color Symbolism in Selected Novels. New York: Peter Lang, 1997.
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