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Symbolism - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Symbolism. Meanings beyond the obvious. A symbol is…. A symbol is an image which suggests or represents something other than itself. (In other words, when you use something tangible to represent something intangible) . We see symbols every day…. In literature, symbolism….

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Meanings beyond the obvious

a symbol is
A symbol is…
  • A symbol is an image which suggests or represents something other than itself.
  • (In other words, when you use something tangible to represent something intangible) .

We see symbols every day…

in literature symbolism
In literature, symbolism…
  • creates a direct, meaningful link between…

a specific object, scene, character, or action


abstract ideas, values, persons or ways of life.

in other words
In other words….

When you use something tangible to represent something intangible

“But Ms. Potter I don’t know what those words mean!”

tangible vs intangible

Things that you can touch


Autumn leaves


Peace Sign

Wedding Band





Things you cannot touch


Tangible vs. Intangible
similes can help
Similes can help

Use the simple simile method

Intangible (something you can’t touch)

“Is like a”

Tangible (something you can touch) “Because”

If you can compare something you can’t touch to something you can touch, you’ve just found a symbol!

for example
For Example!
  • Love is like a blue stone because it is tough, yet breakable at the same time, like a blue stone. It is tough to love a blue stone



common symbols
Common Symbols

Let’s take a look at a few symbols that our commonly found in literature


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.


A walk into a tunnel – or change from day to night – could show movement from good to evil, or that something bad is coming…

A storm at a critical moment can represent the intense emotion and trouble…

And dawn may show the end of conflict, the “start of a new day.”


In Poe’s “Telltale Heart,” the sound of the beating heart represents the man’s guilt…

…a character’s name may tell you something about them, in “The Lottery” Mr. Graves has authority over the killing…

… and a character’s appearance can be symbolic – in Cask of Amontillado, Fortunato wears a fool’s costume – and he is, in fact, a fool for trusting the narrator.

  • Read “Flowers” by Alice Walker
  • Identify the symbolism
  • Read “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night"
    • "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
      • "O Captain! My Captain!"  by Walt Whitman
  • Identify the symbolism
what kind of image would symbolize you
What kind of image would symbolize you?

USING A LARGE NOTECARD, create a colorful symbol that represents you and/or your ideals or something about you.

Your card will be put on the bulletin board. Name on front or back. Show your card to the teacher for credit before stapling it to the board.