Colorful Thoughts: Green!

This is part of a series.  We’ve reached the last (and best) color!  Missed the rest?  Here are the previous posts on purple, blue, yellowredorange, brown, black, and white!

Green is the hue that powers the planet.  It is the color of chlorophyll, the biomolecule that plants, algae, and bacteria use to convert sunlight into energy.  (Did you forget amidst all of the writing/reading-related stuff that this is a nerd’s blog?  Silly you.)  Because it is so incredibly important to every living thing on Earth, including us, chlorophyll (and by extension, green) is everywhere.

Don’t take green’s abundance to mean that it is insignificant in writing.  Rather the contrary.  Due to it’s almost universal presence, green has gained a plethora of meanings and connotations.  Even a “short” list gets long quickly.  Nature.  Science.  Snakes.  Money.  Envy.  Illness.  Ireland.  Aliens.

Wait, aliens? I have no idea why we’ve come to associate green (particularly neon green) with extraterrestrial beings, but we have.  Does the phrase “little green men” sound familiar?  But this is a fantasy writing discussion, not a science fiction one, so that will be the extent of our alien-related tangent.  Back to something more natural.

Let’s address the emotions and negative connotations first.  The relationship of green to envy and illness mostly comes up in sayings.  “You look a little green” implies illness, while “green-eyed monster” gives us a visual for jealousy.  The connotation of illness is likely because some people’s skin takes on a greenish tinge when they are not feeling well.   When it comes to the relationship between green and envy, we likely have Shakespeare to thank, at least for making it stand the test of time – like many of our modern sayings, his plays are some of the first written records of the use of the phrase “green-eyed monster.”

The relationship of green with nature is fairly obvious: any walk through a grassland or forest habitat will display a plethora of green in a multitude of shades.  Thus we have nature-related creatures, of both the real and magical persuasion, that are frequently depicted as green.  Most snakes (at least in the US) are not green, but if you ask a child to draw one, there’s a good chance it will be colored green.  Dragons are often green, although they can be any color, and nature fairies are often clothed in green.  Green can also be water-related, depending on the location of the story; water sprites often have something green (eyes, hair, skin) and swamp monsters are also frequently green.

Speaking of green eyes, I know that the question came up on the blue blog, so I did a little research about the green coloration.  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)  Unlike blue, which is structural, and brown, which is pigment, green is a combination of the two.  The color appears green because it is a blend of both a light layer of pigment (the same that, in larger amounts, makes eyes brown) and the structural effect that creates blue eyes.  This is probably why green, of all eye colors, seems to show so much variety in shades.  For my science/nerd readers out there, the genetic basis for green is very close to that of blue, and so it is seen in the same global range (northern Europe) as blue eyes.

On a personal note, green is my favorite color.  Although many people probably don’t remember choosing their fave shade, I have a very vivid memory.  I was asked, as a child, for my favorite color.  I thought about it and decided that it would be green.  My reason?  Nature is green, and so is my favorite category in Trivial Pursuit.  (Yes, we had a family version of Trivial Pursuit, and even then my category of choice was Science & Nature.)  Even though I have a lot of other colors in my life now, with a blue car, school colors of purple, maroon, and blue (different schools!), and a virtual rainbow of clothing in my closet, I have never seen or heard any good reason to give up on green as my favorite.  My original reasoning still stands, and is no less valid than when I came up with it as a child!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. deshipley
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 00:33:43

    My favorite Junior Trivial Pursuit colors were yellow and purple, as I tended to know those answers best. Green questions were Sports & Games, in that version, with orange for Science & Nature. Wonder if there was any particular reason that varied from the grownup version.
    In any event, huzzah for green! ‘Tis my third favorite of the colors (or it was, back when I had an actual numbered order), and my #1 favorite color for eyes (envy conotations notwithstanding). Fun fact: I’m planning on getting green contact lenses for my Renaissance Faire character this summer, complete with a water-related reason in her backstory. ^.^

    Reply

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