Characterisation and Imagery – Innocence and Experience





LP Hartley and Martin Scorsese both use characterisation and imagery extremely well in conveying Innocence and Experience. Hartley mainly uses a lot of different symbols to show Leo’s innocence, yet he still uses characters, such as Leo and Marian to contrast with innocence versus experience. Scorsese is more focused on imagery, but because his text is a Film, it is much easier to demonstrate imagery and it becomes clearer to the audience. Characterisation varies throughout “The Age of Innocence” when certain characters change from being seen as innocent to experienced, such as May.


There is a wide range of imagery in “The Go-Between.” Some symbols include colours, the temperature, zodiac signs, the belladonna, keys/locks and clothing. Hartley writes them into the book with ease and it is quite clear what they each represent. Repetition of the symbols emphasises the importance of symbolism of innocence and experience.


The colour green reoccurs frequently throughout the novel in different forms. Green is seen as “Leo’s colour” because it represents his innocence to the going ons around him. Green represents jealousy or envy (green-eyed monster) and inexperience. Leo gets a suit and bike as gifts from Marian and they are both green in colour. Marian explains that green is his colour and to Marian it suits her because she is using Leo and knows that he is naive. Whilst Leo is staying with the Maudsley’s he gets moved into a room with a green door, being demoted to “servant” status.


Heat is used to represent Leo’s moods during the novel. As the heat rises Leo’s spirits rise and he becomes more optimistic and content. He thinks he can control the weather because he’s a “magician.” In cold weather his mood is more depressing and gloomy and he doesn’t go out as much. An example of this is on Leo’s birthday, the weather changes suddenly and it starts to get cold and stormy. The heat can be associated with the relationship between Ted and Marian, as it gets hotter the relationship grows.


The zodiac signs are used for each character as an icon to the main characters personalities. Leo sees himself as a hero and is naturally a Leo or lion. He assigns Marian as the virgin, although she is quote the opposite in reality. Trimingham is the Archer after being a war hero and he is a strong figure type. Lastly Ted is the Water Carrier, because Ted is in a lower class in the society and more like a servant compared to Marian and Trimingham. Leo believes he is a wizard so he puts his faith in the zodiac signs and follows them very closely. Since Leo follows the zodiac signs, he can not choose between what is true and what is false. He becomes oblivious to Ted and Marian because he does not believe that a virgin and water carrier can be together, even though he is being used as a messenger for the two. Everyone seems to know about the affair but Leo.


The Belladonna plant is a symbol of Marian and is often compared to it. The Belladonna is beautiful, but it is very poisonous. Like the Belladonna Marian is very beautiful, but on the inside she is full of lies and deceit. The Belladonna starts to grow out of control and smothers the greenhouse, it represents that Marian is having more control over Leo than he does on himself. Leo tries to destroy the Belladonna and he fails, he can’t control himself anymore, rather he is under the command of Marian.


The novel starts with Leo opening up a diary that he has no memory of. The diary is purple with golden edges, purple representing royalty. He unlocks he diary automatically like a reflex, and it is like unlocking memories to his past. As an older man Leo has forgotten about his childhood because it was so traumatising for him, and the diary is his memory locked away, until he re-opened it. When he opens the diary he is receiving new hope because he is facing his fear.


Clothing is an important symbol for representing innocence and experience. Depending on the colour and design of the clothes it can