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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Use of color in TBRG

In TBRG, Wilde's use of color is a prominent feature of the poem. In relation to the prisoners, the most prominent color used is grey. CTW is described as not wearing a "scarlet coat" during the murder but walks the grounds of Reading Prison for six weeks in a "suit of shabby grey." He gazes wistfully at the "leaden sky" which after death changes to a "tent of blue." His fellow prisoners are "grey figures" who pray the night before the execution. The grave dug especially for CTW is described as a "yellow hole." The use of these colors create a gloomy and lifeless atmosphere in the prison for the prisoners, who are no longer men but "souls in pain."

The prison officials, on the other hand, tend to be described using more striking imagery. The chaplain is "robed in white" while the Governor is dressed in "shiny black," though having a "yellow face of Doom." The judge who sentenced CTW is described as a "man in red," signifying that CTW's blood is on his hands. Finally, the gallows have become the "blackened beam."

The above painting is "Past and Present I" (1858) by Augustus Egg.

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