Semantic Meaning of Colours in John Milton's Poem Paradise Lost

Lina Inčiuraitė
2013 Studies About Languages  
The present study throws a new light on the semantics of encoded color terms in John Milton's epic Paradise Lost. Color terms in Milton's magnificent poem are not examined individually, but in word combinations, particularly alongside with nouns and adjectives. The range of color terms is not very extensive as the study entails only the spectral colors, such as red, blue, and the achromatic ones, such as white and black. These four colors develop a particular range of symbolic meanings with
more » ... c meanings with religious connotations which remain absent in other color terms. However, the analysis of color lexicon requires considerable knowledge of various scientific subjects, hence, the study adopts an interdisciplinary approach as evidence on the meaning of color terms is obtained from literature, theology as well as cognitive science. Distinct color terms, the symbolic meaning of which is of religious origin, bear distinct connotative meanings, which help to reveal Milton's religious convictions. The findings of the study reveal that color vocabulary is structured into two concepts, namely of light and darkness. In Paradise Lost, black fire is disastrous and portrayed as a symbol of hell. Black bituminous gurge refers to the dark abyss, the place where Satan's angels were imprisoned. Milton represents death as a black attendant, whereas the God is portrayed with a radiant glowing white light. The blue firmament refers to heaven, the dwelling place of God. The Red Sea is a sign of danger and blood, whilst celestial rosy red is a symbol of love. Red right hand signifies violent anger and pertains to the punishing hand of God.
doi:10.5755/j01.sal.0.23.5506 fatcat:5vh57a3sffhthj6muzvvdtkscq