The Color Red

The Color RedThe color red gets a bad rap. 

It must have been a terrifying experience for ten-year-old Jane Eyre (or Jane Slayre in this case) to be confined to the eerie Red Room of Gateshead.  Locked-in with no escape.  Can you say child abuse

This month, along with my friends at the Dark Jane Austen Book Club, I’m reading (and so thoroughly enjoying) Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin, as well as re-visiting the original Jane Eyre of Charlotte Bronte.  (And I’ll have little time to read much else, as they’re both fairly lengthy). 

Pulled from the quiet contentment of her window seat, our poor future vampire hunting, Jane Slayre, is cast into the Red Room of the Reed home (just as our heroine Jane Eyre had been) as punishment for simply defending herself.  The twist here is that her antagonist is the blood-sucking, nasty-of-nasty’s, John Reed. 

Truth be told, I always assumed that John Reed would return one day — like a sort of Voldimort character — to inflict more pain and create chaos in Jane’s life.      

The intimidating Red Room is the room in which the older Mr. Reed breathed his last breath.  Rumors of hauntings and talk of his roaming spirit add to its chilling reputation. 

Red walls, red velvet drapes, red pillows and such (with no Pottery Barn shades of sand to break up the severity in decor and absent of any trace of  feng shui) along with drops of Jane’s blood dripping from her injuries make this scary red room even scarier and redder. 

What makes the Red Room (not to be confused with REDRUM from The Shining) so creepy?  The color red.

The color red has been used to cast a chilling effect in several books and films:  

  • Steven Spielberg used the color red in the black and white, Schindler’s List, to draw attention to the innocent girl that would soon die;
  • The Sixth Sense’s cinematographer used the color red to suggest the presence of impending death;
  • The “Scarlett” Letter is meant to broadcast “I’m a no-good sinner”; and  
  •  Darth Vader’s light-saber is also red as is all evil Jedi knights.

Red may also represent good…but not very often.      

Our heroines, Jane Eyre and Jane Slayre overcome the wrath of the Red Room (that’s fun to say) with newly found strength.  Something happens within those four red walls allowing Jane to face her fear, move on, and be fearless henceforth. 

So, no need to rethink the color of your cranberry-colored den.  Red is just a color. 

Though the callous walls of the Reed’s home may be red, it is also the color of love.  

What are your thoughts on the color red? 

*Photo: read dream by extranoise, obtained through Flickr.

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  • Barbara

    I just love to decorate with the color red, had no idea it was “bad” except of course for “scarlet woman” Red just makes me happy!

  • Red does get a bad rap, but it is also a passionate color. That has to count for something.

  • MaryCMP

    I’m with you Barbara. My living room walls are “henna” red. Still thinking of any books or movies that use red to represent good. Anybody?

  • Sherri Browning Erwin

    My kitchen is red. Red in the kitchen is supposed to stimulate the appetite (according to author Christina Dodd, who also has a red kitchen). I always thought maybe the red room in Jane Eyre (Slayre) might have also symbolized Jane’s transformation from little girl to adolescence, but maybe I read too much into it. She emerges from that room an older and wiser girl, her eyes finally fully open to the horrors around her.