-Meaning of Hope:
Hope revolves around the concept and state of mind referred to optimism or being optimistic. Both hope and optimism are related to how a person perceives and expects outcomes to unfold, usually expecting a positive outcome. Also tied in with hope is forgiveness and positivity, as well as a host of positive emotions. Opposing Hope are several emotions and states of being, such as hopelessness, fear and despair. All of these states of mind and emotions are heavily influenced by past experiences, chemicals in the brain, health, colour, perception, language, culture and various social factors. A major factor in hope, optimism and despair would be environmental, with family and social environments becoming a prevalent cause of despair and depression, especially among youths and teens.
Hope and optimism are integrally tied in together, with optimism being the precursor. Those who are not optimistic, whether it be by choice or various factors beyond their control, usually do not experience or empathise with hope or those experiencing hope. However, one does not need to be optimistic to experience hope, as even pessimists can experience it, however rarely. Although optimism does lead towards a more frequently hopeful nature, hope usually has more solidity than that of general optimism. Adding to that would be the pairing of motivation and self-discipline, which are important to the continued drive one needs to accomplish their goals. It can be argued whether or not motivation and self-discipline are equally important, on one hand motivation acts as a sort of inspirational boost that usually requires some external influence to trigger, self-discipline, however, is usually internal and relies upon the willpower and determination of the individual, arguably a better long-term strategy and path.
-Hope and Colour:
Colours regarding Hope:
Aqua and Olive Green: healing, protection and peace
Light Blue: health and tranquillity
White: goodness, purity and safety
Light Yellow: intellect, freshness and joy
Dark Blue: knowledge and power
Colours regarding Despair:
Dark Red: rage, malice and wrath
Dark Green: ambition, greed and jealousy
Yellow Green: sickness, cowardice, discord and jealousy
Black: death and evil
Dark Purple: gloom, sadness and frustration
Dark Orange: deceit and distrust
-Hope in Storytelling:
Hope is an integral part of storytelling, something which helps to drive the main character/s forward. The events that happen to that character usually shape them and their personality, the way they perceive the world and their hope. Many times in storytelling, the main character will have their hope or faith tested, whether it be in a concept or cause, and their reactions are what build them as a believable and relatable being. In such cases, various other characters usually have a role to play when it comes to the influence these events have on the character, with some preaching discouragement, while others may attempt to lift up the character. The struggle of mindset, perception and vulnerability is something that helps make characters more real, grounding them in reality and making them more relatable. The weaknesses, failings and struggles of the character allow us to empathise with them, an important part of creating a believable story. On many occasions, the viewers witness the growth of the character, seeing the highs and lows of their struggle and their more human aspects, something people don’t usually openly display. This look into the characters inner workings and perception of the world around them, relating to emotions such as hope and despair, helps create a tangible emotional connection between a fictional character and the audience, whom feel as though they are connected on an individual level.
The completion of tasks, especially ones previously viewed as impossible, helps build upon the feeling of hope and reigniting it if it was lost. When it comes to despair, one may perceive the world in a pessimistic or negative way, whether by choice or circumstance. If the character is able to conquer these states of despair and hopelessness, usually spurred on by a catalyst such as an event or person, they usually do so by completing a goal or task that they previously viewed as impossible. This creates a state where the character’s mindset changes, their perceptions of the world and their abilities evolve, and they become happier, optimistic and more content with their lives and situations.
Without hope in stories, the characters would fall into despair and never leave, however the contrast between hope and despair is integral to creating a believable journey and cast. To fully appreciate the strength of the character and their ability to maintain hope, you must also be aware of the odds stacked against them, their moments of despair, and the environments and situations they are thrust into.
Overall, the combination of catalysts, willpower and completion of goals leads to and contributes to the mental health of an individual, causing their mindset to shift into a more positive and optimistic viewpoint as their perceptions of the world and their abilities change.
-Hope in art, design, literature and/or film etc.:
When it comes to the use of hope in literature and entertainment, Star Wars is a shining example. Not only did they communicate a sense of hope successfully through the story, but they did so as well through colour, design and composition, making use of visuals to enhance key story points and further the narrative. The combination of visual and story-based elements is essential for communicating the direction of a film and the themes within. Added in with those factors would be the use of music, which in Star Wars is used effectively to display the emotions and moods within the various scenes.
An essential point in the first movie is when Luke is in a moment of quite contemplation, the twin suns of Tatooine in the distance before him. The emotional orchestral track, combined with the sombre, new dawn visuals, inspires a rising sense of hope. The viewer gets the sense that the character, Luke, is realising that there is more out that, that he can achieve something great. This builds on that sense of hope, the trust in something non-tangible. The trust that there is a possibility, no matter how slim or allusive, that you are able to achieve your goals and progress in life. People’s hopes are essentially goals, usually non-tangible and seemingly distant. Even though that may be the case, the hopes of Luke and his friends are fulfilled by the end, while the nefarious goals of their enemies are thwarted by the action of others placing their faith into the Force, something intangible, like that of hope.
Throughout the movies, this theme of hope is tested again and again, with setbacks being overcome through the use of willpower and the help of friends and mentors. The themes of mentor ship, friendship and selflessness are intrinsically woven in with that of hope. This is clearly displayed through the actions of Luke, as well as that of his companions. The hopes of these characters do change throughout the course of the movies, with Luke aiming to become a better man than his father, to restore peace and vanquish the Empire. Even though he does lapse into periods of darkness and rage, he is pulled out through realisations and the help of others. Instead of executing his father and leaving him to die, he helps him remove his helmet as he believes there is hope yet for him, he may be able to atone for what he has done. That moment is one of forgiveness and connection, a moment of bonding and understanding.
The message shown throughout is that of hope, faith and belief. One should trust that there is goodness in the world, and that there is hope for even those who have fallen into periods of darkness and despair. All you need to do is pull yourself out, through the use of willpower and the support of others.
-Hope in Body and Shape Language:
When it comes to emotions, shapes serve as a powerful tool of communication. The orientation of the shape, the shape itself, as well as the relative size and proportions, combines with the context that it resides in to display an emotion, or emotions, that the viewer may connect with. When it comes to shapes, there is a spectrum of emotional readability and understanding. The clarity of the communication may range from abstract to complex, from a simple circle to a complex arrangement of angular shadow shapes that build up a villainous character’s face. To organise the types of shapes used, one may arrange them into three categories; Geometric, Organic and Abstract. When organising these shapes, one must be aware of the negative space being used and created, as this can form a multitude of shapes that could compliment, harmonise or contrast with the positive.
Geometric shapes are the more conventional, such as circles, squares, diamonds and triangles. These shapes, being so commonly used, recognisable and easily made into patterns, communicate structure and organisation, as well as order through their usually symmetrical nature. However, when their orientation is off-balance and are influenced contextually by other shapes, they may display fearful and submissive characteristics and emotions. One such example may be this; an off-balance triangle, made of a de-saturated blue, points to the right at an acute angle, while a large square, comprised of bright, saturated red, tips towards it, off-balance by an, even more, acute angle. The smaller triangle slopes away from the larger shape, appearing as though it is cringing and retracting from the presence of the square.This situation would communicate instability and danger, the triangle appearing fearful before the much larger shape, threatening to topple.
Organic shapes stray away from the structure and order of the Geometric, moving more towards uneven edges and curves. Organic shapes are usually found in nature, non-conforming and free-flowing. The easy-going nature and soft edge quality usually conveys comfort and tranquillity. Depending on the arrangement of the curves in the edges, they shapes could display energetic qualities, the example of a roller coaster may be used to illustrate this; there are both areas of slow, calm climbs that are offset by sudden drops, something that is both visually and physically tangible when it comes to the actual roller coaster, however, this needs to be communicated through visuals alone using shape language.
Abstract shapes are more of a combination of geometric and organic shapes, creating something unique and stylised. Usually, abstract shapes are used as icons and symbols, with typography being an excellent example of abstract shapes being used for communication.
The quality of shapes, their colour, and their orientation, influences the way we perceive them. A sharp, red and angular triangle will communicate more aggression than a soft edged, light blue circle. The reason we perceive shapes in this way connects back to evolution and threat processing. Threat detection, and the processing behind it, is deeply ingrained in all of us and is constructed in a way that it requires minimal stimulation to trigger a response. Sharp, angular and aggressive shapes hint at predators and danger, triggering a fight or flight response. On the other hand, soft, curved and rounded shapes and features communicate affection and bonding, this is believed to come from the shape of a baby’s face and their rounded features.
Angles are incredibly important when it comes to shape language and design, and can influence the visual response that the shapes illicit from the viewer. Shapes with sharp declines communicate negative emotions, while upwardly curved edges would garner a more positive reaction.
Colour and shape go hand-in-hand, allowing designers to communicate emotion and information effectively, tapping into the human perception of the world. To communicate hope, one should recruit the help of both shape and colour in order to effectively display the intended emotion. The combination of rounded shapes, such as the circle, with peaceful and hopeful colours such as white and light blue, communicates hopeful characteristics. This is especially prevalent when put into context, with proportions and scale applied to it within that context. A white circle, with a hint of light blue or aqua, rising above a field of dark triangles will simultaneously display hope, danger and tension, especially if the background verges on a desaturated red, or perhaps a sickly yellow-green. An important part of this composition, and what it communicates, would be the proportional scale between the dangerous and hopeful elements, the visual weight of each influencing the predominant emotion. Even if the triangles are smaller than the circle, the amount and density of them may garner them more visual weight. Achieving the desired emotional response in an image requires a fine balance of that weight, something that is influenced by size, colour, shape and arrangement, as well as various other factors.
When it comes to animation, shapes are used extensively in order to communicate the desired meaning effectively and efficiently. Character designs are heavily influenced by shape language, design and psychology. The use of geometric and organic shapes not only makes animating easier, but also helps to easily display the personality of a character. A friendly character may be comprised of a series of repeating circles and organic shapes, while a villain may be built up of triangles, sharp and angular, housed within an overall triangular envelope. These designs are further enhanced by colour, helping to solidify the emotional response that the shapes communicate.
When it comes to body language, the expression of hope can be tied to that of confidence and the transition from reclusive body language to that state. Confidence, when communicated through body language, usually manifests itself as a combination of gestures and movements. Several ways in which confidence and likeability is shown, is through smiling, a good balance of eye contact, calm movements, stillness, arms gently held in front or behind you, standing tall and straight and having your head held high. To communicate hope, a person may be in a shy, fearful position, that then transitions into one of hope. To show this, the person may look up from a hunched position, gazing upwards with open eyes. They may begin to stand, straightening their backs and assuming a confident, strong stance. The action of gazing upwards, combined with the overall postural transition, helps to communicate a sense of hope and path to success.
The use of clothing adds the perception of hope, as well as the lack thereof. Characters in movies and animation usually have clothing that reflects their personality and position in the overall story, as well as their own. In Star Wars, clothing is used to visually represent the position of the characters in the story, as well as their personalities. Luke, especially in A New Hope, are white. This ties in perfectly with the themes of hope that run throughout the franchise, with the title of the movie clearly stating the inclusion of hope as an important theme. With white being a colour that is usually perceived as representing goodness, purity and safety, it can clearly communicate hope more so than most other colours, as the characteristics of this colour are closely linked to that of hope itself. To contrast this, Darth Vader is clad in all black, with hints of red from his control panel and lightsaber communicating anger, violence and chaos. This combination of colours pushes forth the narrative of death, chaos and evil that this character represents. A middle ground between these two polar opposites would be Han Solos attire, with the combination of both black and white being prevalent in his design. This combination of black and white is directly influenced by his attitude, personality and his motives throughout the movies, tying in with his fluctuating allegiance and compassion. The Jedi, who throughout the films are known to favour nature and the humanity of people, are usually seen wearing monk-like robes that feature warm, earthy tones.
Visual References and Representations of Hope and Despair:
Lu, X., Suryanarayan, P., Adams, Jr., R., Li, J., Newman, M. and Wang, J. (2012). CiteSeerX. [online] Citeseerx.ist.psu.edu
. Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/
[Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].