“It was one January morning, very early—a pinching, frosty morning—the cove all grey with hoar-frost, the ripple lapping softly on the stones, the sun still low and only touching the hilltops and shining far to seaward.” ~Stevenson, Robert Louis. “Chapter II Black Dog Appears and Disappears.” Treasure Island.
Just like that the scene is set. The bitter cold, the ghostly coloration of the landscape and dim light described here in Stevenson’s classic tale of adventure have set an emotional tenor of uneasiness and foreboding that will spark with dark fire once it strikes against the devious characterization of Black Dog shortly after in the chapter.
This is a literary technique where writer’s use emotional symbolism often drawn from nature (i.e. light and shadow, the weather, etc.) to impart emotional connotations to the scene(s) that follow. Sometimes called setting the mood, it is important to consider what the scene is doing for the emotional setting as well as the physical setting. Continue reading