Symbols and motifs
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Symbols and Motifs. Equivalent Symbols. Symbols: multiple meanings. Death Poision Pirates!. Symbol: etymology. Derived from the Greek verb “ symballein ” and the related noun “ symbolon ” Symballein = “to put together” Symbolon = “mark,” “taken” or “sign.” ( ) .

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Symbols and Motifs

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Symbols and motifs

Symbols and Motifs

Equivalent symbols

Equivalent Symbols

Symbols multiple meanings

Symbols: multiple meanings

  • Death

  • Poision

  • Pirates!

Symbol etymology

Symbol: etymology

  • Derived from the Greek verb “symballein” and the related noun “symbolon”

  • Symballein = “to put together”

  • Symbolon = “mark,” “taken” or “sign.” (

Symbol definitions

Symbol: definitions

  • a sign, shape or object which is used to represent something else. A heart shape is the symbol of love.

  • something that is used to represent a quality or idea. Water, a symbol of life, recurs as an image throughout her poems.

  • a number, letter or sign used in mathematics, music, science, etc. The symbol for oxygen is O2.

  • An object can be described as a symbol of something else if it seems to represent it because it is connected with it in a lot of people's minds. The private jet is a symbol of wealth. (

Symbols in literature

Symbols in Literature

  • A symbol is the use of a concrete object to represent an abstract idea.

  • Occurs when an object, person, or situation represents an abstract idea in addition to a literal meaning.

  • Symbols may appear in literature in a number of different ways: an object, a word, a figure of speech, an action, an event, or a character.

  • Over time, certain symbols have become ‘conventional’ or ‘traditional’ literary symbols because they have an agreed upon meaning, so they can be used to suggest universal ideas. (

Conventional symbols in literature seasons

Conventional symbols in literature: Seasons



birth, new beginning

decline, aging, nearing death



maturity, knowledge

death, sleep, hibernation, or stagnation

Conventional symbols in literature colors

Conventional symbols in literature: Colors

  • Innocence

  • Purity

  • Enlightenment

  • Light

  • Inexperience

  • Hope

  • New Life

  • Immaturity

  • Blood

  • Passion

  • Emotion

  • Danger

  • Daring

  • Death

  • Ignorance

  • Evil

Conventional symbols in literature walls

Conventional symbols in literature: Walls

  • Barriers between people

  • both physical and mental

Conventional symbols in literature key

Conventional symbols in literature: Key

  • The power to let in or shut out

  • To hold a key is to have been initiated

Conventional symbols in literature ladder

Conventional symbols in literature: Ladder

  • Ascension

  • Realization of potential

Conventional symbols in literature journey

Conventional symbols in literature: Journey

  • Quest for truth

  • Life itself

Conventional symbols in literature storms

Conventional symbols in literature: Storms

  • Violent human emotions

Conventional symbols in literature water

Conventional symbols in literature: Water

  • Origin of life

  • Washes away guilt

  • Regeneration

Conventional symbols in literature animals

Conventional Symbols in Literature: Animals

  • Peace

  • Purity

Conventional symbols in literature animals1

Conventional Symbols in Literature: Animals

  • slyness

  • cleverness

Conventional symbols in literature animals2

Conventional Symbols in Literature: Animals

  • death

  • destruction

Conventional symbols in literature animals3

Conventional Symbols in Literature: Animals

  • power

  • pride

Conventional symbols in literature animals4

Conventional Symbols in Literature: Animals

  • pride

  • vanity

Conventional symbols in literature animals5

Conventional Symbols in Literature: Animals

  • temptation

  • evil

Conventional symbols in literature animals6

Conventional Symbols in Literature: Animals

  • shyness

  • weakness

Conventional symbols in literature animals7

Conventional Symbols in Literature: Animals

  • wisdom

Conventional symbols in literature animals8

Conventional Symbols in Literature: Animals

  • sacrifice

  • child of God







  • a recurring thematic element

  • a recurring object, concept, or structure in a work of literature


So what s the difference between symbol motif

So what’s the difference between symbol & motif?



Can be concrete OR abstract

Recurs again and again

  • Is something concrete that stands for something abstract

  • Appears only once



  • Motifs (i.e., recurring thematic elements) are quite prevalent; they may have served as mnemonic devices when the tales were still passed on orally. Examples of common motifs include

  • journeys through dark forests

  • enchanted transformations

  • magical cures or other spells

  • encounters with helpful animals or mysterious creatures

  • foolish bargains

  • impossible tasks

  • clever deceptions

  • the use of the number 3

  • The magic, when it appears, is always greeted by the characters with matter-of-factness. Characters acknowledge magic as a normal part of life without surprise or disbelief.

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