Symbolism Powerpoint

Symbolism in Literature
Layers of Meaning
What Symbols Stand For
• A symbol is often an ordinary
object, event, person, or animal to
which we have attached
extraordinary meaning and
Symbolism in Literature
• Symbolism is the practice or art of using
an object or a word to represent an
abstract idea. An action, person, place,
word, or object can all have a symbolic
meaning. When an author wants to
suggest a certain mood or emotion, he can
also use symbolism to hint at it, rather
than just blatantly saying it.
Where Do Symbols Come From?
• Symbols can be inherited or invented.
• The most familiar symbols have been
inherited; meaning they have been handed
down over time
What does the lion represent?
• No one really knows who
first thought of using a lion
as a symbol of power,
courage, and domination
• Once these qualities were
associated with the animal,
images of lions appeared
on flags, banners, coats of
arms and castle walls
• The lion became a
public symbol that
shows up in art and
literature, even today!
People throughout history have endowed
ordinary objects with meanings far beyond
their simple meaning:
A crown symbolizes
An olive
Five linked
Invented Symbols
What is the symbol for our
Writers often take a new object,
character, or event and make it
the embodiment of some human
Some invented symbols in
literature have become so widely
known that they often have
gained the status of public
For example:
Peter Pan is a
symbol for eternal
Symbolism is used to…
• Provide meaning beyond the obvious:
– Emphasize key ideas or themes:
A river can represent the flow
of life…
… or its depth may represent
the unknown…
… the water might be purity…
… or there could be dangers
beneath the surface.
In literature, symbols are full of
meaning and are used to develop
atmosphere in the text.
• Example: A storm occurring when
there is a conflict or high emotions
• Example: Transition from day
to night might = move from
goodness to evil
* Example: And dawn may show the end
of conflict, the “start of a new day.”
Why Create Symbols?
You may ask why writers don’t just come right out and
say what they mean.
• Symbols allow writers to suggest layers and layers of
meaning-possibilities that a simple, literal statement
could never convey.
• A symbol is like a pebble cast into a pond: It sends out
ever widening ripples of meaning
Symbols have multiple
• Depending on the context, cultural meanings,
and personal experience, symbols may carry
different meanings.
• You may not be able to articulate fully what a
certain symbol means, but you will always find
that the symbol will speak to your emotions and
to your imagination.
• You may also find that you will remember and
think about the symbol long after you have
forgotten other parts.
Candy’s Dog?
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