The color of forbidden passion

Is it customary to consider the color yellow as a symbol of forbidden passion? I first encountered this usage in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. In that story, the young Newland Archer, in his clandestine passion for the dangerous Ellen Olenska, sends her a bouquet of yellow roses. In stark contrast to the white purity and convention of Archer’s wife May, Olenska and the yellow roses represent an intense love that must be hidden from the awfully conventional New York of the late 19th century.

Now again, in the book that never ends, I read feverishly about Mauricio Babilonia and the halo of yellow butterflies that accompany him wherever he goes. García Márquez is more explicit, and more brutal about this symbolism in his writing about the forbidden romance of Renata Remedios – from the moment she sees Mauricio and his butterflies in the movie theater, to the unfortunate day on which she waits for him in her locked room, pining away among the scorpions.


2 thoughts on “The color of forbidden passion”

  1. As an artist I have alwas been keenly aware of the effect of colours on myself and others and also their symbology. On the psycho-spiritual level, yellow relates to self worth. How we feel about ourselves and how we feel others perceive us. This is the area of the personality, the ego and the intellect and of self confidence. The yellow rose is symbolic of passion. It is my rose but have you explored the aspects of the colour yellow?

  2. Timethief: Thanks for your thoughts. The colors page on your blog is an interesting read, though I am skeptical about chakras and color therapy. It is, of course, a very interesting field to study – which areas of the brain show increased activity when they see colors R,G,B, etc? When you say that the yellow rose is symbolic of passion, is it owing an adopted and unverified convention, or is it known that exposure to yellow triggers expressions of passion/danger/risk in the brain ?

    Perhaps one should just ask Solomon Shershevsky or some synaesthetic genius what yellow smells like or what its sound is. ;). Just recently, Ana Correa had a post about this.

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