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Symbol. A symbol is anything that represents another thing. Sound confusing? It's really simple! There are millions of symbols that you recognize every day. a red light means stop an arrow means "this way" a light bulb means "new idea" the numerals 10, put together, mean ten

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Symbol

Symbol

A symbol is anything that represents another thing. Sound confusing? It's really simple! There are millions of symbols that you recognize every day.

a red light means stop

an arrow means "this way"

a light bulb means "new idea"

the numerals 10, put together, mean ten

a heart means love

a wink means "just kidding"


When you read literature, you should keep your mind open to possible symbols that may not be so obvious at first. For example, if you read a scene that involves a skunk lurking in the background, you might wonder what that animal could signify.

Is there something that "stinks" in the works of your story, like a breakup or a bit of bad luck? This is how symbols work!


It often helps to practice with imagery, by asking yourself what a variety of everyday objects might stand for. For example, think about emotions or thoughts that come to mind when you see the following:

flowers

lightening bolt

knife

spider's web


Which of the objects might signify entanglement? What about beauty? Any time you read a piece of literature, you should consider whether certain objects have a double role. They might hold a hidden message or meaning.


Motif

Motif beauty? Any time you read a piece of literature, you should consider whether certain objects have a double role. They might hold a hidden message or meaning.

So What Is a Motif in Literature?

While a symbol might occur once in literature to signify an idea or an emotion, a motif can be an element or idea that repeats throughout that piece of literature. A motif could be expressed by a collection of related symbols. For example, the motif of fragmentation (of a family, for instance) could come from several symbols that appear in a book:

shattered glass

an unfaithful spouse

a runaway (pet, teen, car)


Sometimes a motif can be a contrast, like "light and dark." A series of symbols that could represent this motif might be:

shadows (shades of darkness)

a candle (a light in the darkness)

storm clouds (temporary darkness)

a ray of sunshine (emerging from darkness)

a tunnel (through the darkness)


The symbols and motifs you discover in your reading will lead to the understanding of an overall theme of your book. To find the theme of a book, you should look for an overall message or lesson. If you do encounter the motif of "light and dark" in a book, you should think about a message that the author is trying to send about life.

The light and dark of a story might tell us:

Love survives death

Life renews itself

Knowledge conquers fear


What motifs have we seen so far

What motifs have we seen so far? lead to the understanding of an overall theme of your book. To


Tell tale heart
Tell Tale Heart lead to the understanding of an overall theme of your book. To

  • Thinking about Tell Tale Heart, what do you think was the theme of it? The lesson the author wanted you to learn?

  • Was their an object in Tell Tale Heart that you saw repeated?

  • What was the importance of this object in the story? Could hit have a hidden meaning?

  • So could this object be linked to the theme?


Daedalus and icarus
Daedalus and Icarus lead to the understanding of an overall theme of your book. To

  • Is there an idea or concept that you maybe could see repeated in this story?

  • How?

  • How could this motif be used to connect to the theme of the story?


Tangerine
Tangerine lead to the understanding of an overall theme of your book. To

  • Are there any ideas or concepts that you see being repeated in Tangerine? Things that Bloor is always going back to?

  • Why do you think he does this?


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