Symbolism and Allegory . 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 significance. We use a rectangle of dyed cloth to symbolize a country.
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Layers of Meaning
We use a picture of a skull and crossbones to symbolize poison or danger.
For example: no one really knows who first thought of using a lion as a symbol of power, courage and domination
People through out history have endowed ordinary objects with meanings far beyond their simple meaning,
A crown symbolizes royalty
An olive branch symbolizes peace
Five linked rings symbolize the Olympics
Writers often take a new object, character, or event and make it the embodiment of some human concern.
Some invented symbols in literature have become so widely known that they often have gained the status of public symbols.
For example: Peter Pan is a symbol for eternal childhood
You may ask why writers don’t just come right out and say what they mean.
In the short story Marigolds, a poor woman has no beauty in her world except the dazzling marigolds she plants around her ramshackle house. The children in the story, who are as poor as the old woman, hate the flowers and all that they stand for, In a moment of thoughtless hatred and violence, one girl destroys all the bright flowers.
While the flowers are REAL flowers in the story, we also get the sense that they symbolize something else, something larger than the flowers themselves…
What do you think the marigolds stand for?
Some readers might think they symbolize hope and beauty and that the children are so angry about their poverty that they want to destroy anything that expresses the beauty of another world.
You may not be able to articulate fully what a certain symbol means, but you will always find that the symbol, if it s powerful and well chosen, will speak forcefully to your emotions and to your imagination.
An allegory can be read on one level for its literal or straightforward meaning
Some of the most famous allegories feature characters and places whose names describe what they symbolize.
In an old English play called Everyman, the main character is named Everyman (he stands for exactly what his name indicates).
Here we have a picture of a serpent (snake) and an apple.
What are some things that come to mind when you see this image?
Often times, a serpent or snake is used to symbolize temptation or trouble. This allegory stems from it’s biblical reference.
What does the apple stand for?
The Most Dangerous Game:
Zaroff: Allegory for ________________
Thank You M’am:
Shoes: Symbol for ________________
Fortunato: Symbol/Allegory for____________
War: Allegory for_________________
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