Symbolism adapted from “Literary Symbols” by

adapted from “Literary Symbols” by Serber Gratis
Natural Symbols
• There are “natural symbols” that “present
things not for themselves, but for the ideas
people commonly associate with them”
>:] :-) :) :o) :] :3 :c) :> =] 8) =) :} :^) happiness
>:[ :-( :( :-c :c :-< :< :-[ :[ :{ >.> <.< >.<
Natural Symbols
Conventional Symbols
• …“present things for the meanings people
within a particular group have agreed to give
Conventional Symbols
Literary Symbols
• The third kind are “literary” and are
“sometimes built upon natural or
conventional symbols, adding meanings
appropriate with the work at hand.”…these
symbols may sometimes “create meanings
within a work for things that have no natural
or conventional meaning outside it”
The sword carried by the
true king of England,
Arthur Pendragon,
Excalibur’s symbolizes
kingship, peace, and
order. It also has
elements of conventional
symbolism—it is shaped
like a crucifix and this
relates to the history
which may lie behind the
myth of King Arthur and
Excalibur, which made him
The Pantheon of Greek Gods
Are natural, conventional, and literary symbols. In Literature, writers from Ovid,
Shakespeare, and Riordan have used them to lend their works extra meaning.
In Greek mythology,
Ariadne devised he
perfect strategy to find
your way out of a maze,
allowing Theseus to slay
the evil Minotaur.
Athena is usually known as
the goddess of wisdom.
She was born when her
father, Zeus,had a
headache so painful that
he cracked his own head
open—out popped
Wisdom must be hard to
come by…
In the movie
Inception (2009),
Ariadne created
a maze in a man’s
mind by using
technology to
enter his dreams
Dallas Winston
In S.E. Hinton’s novel, The
Outsiders, Dally (as Dallas
is known) symbolizes hope
and betrayal. I cannot
expand on this without
giving away the ending of
a great novel that you will
read in 7th or 8th grade,
but Dally is a pure literary
symbol. He represents a
powerful theme which is
central to The Outsiders.
In fact, he almost is that
Scooter’s Christmas Shoes
The symbolic meaning of Scooter’s Christmas shoes is still
uncertain, but given that Crash behaves so strangely when he
buys them and then hides them, it seems likely that their
importance to him has a symbolic element…
The Mouse and its house
So give it a shot! What do the mouse and its house symbolize? Consider what they
mean to characters and to how the characters interact. Figuring out a symbol means you
need to think and rethink and be creative. It is a process, and like Ariadne, you are
building a maze and finding your way out at the same time!