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SYMBOLISM. Where Do We Get Symbols?. What does each of these symbols stand for? Why do you think they have taken on the meanings they have?. justice. love. luck. Symbols in Literature. Writers use symbols to suggest layers of meaning that a simple, literal statement could never convey.

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where do we get symbols
Where Do We Get Symbols?

What does each of these symbols stand for? Why do you think they have taken on the meanings they have?




symbols in literature
Symbols in Literature
  • Writers use symbols to
    • suggest layers of meaning that a simple, literal statement could never convey
  • speak more powerfully to the reader’s emotions and imagination
  • make their stories rich and memorable
what is a symbol
What Is a Symbol?

A symbol is an ordinary object, event, person, or animal to which we have attached a special meaning.

Symbolism is a 19th-century movement in which art became infused with exaggerated sensitivity and a spooky mysticism. It was a continuation of the Romantictradition, which included such artists asJohn HenryFuseliandCaspar David Friedrich.
  • The leading Symbolists includedGustave Moreau, Puvis de Chavannes, and Odilon Redon.






What Is Symbolism in Literature?

Symbolism is when the author uses an object or reference to add deeper meaning to a story. Symbolism in literature can be subtle or obvious, used sparingly or heavy-handedly. An author may repeatedly use the same object to convey deeper meaning or may use variations of the same object to create an overarching mood or feeling. Symbolism is often used to support a literary theme in a subtle manner.

what are some examples of symbolism
What Are Some Examples of Symbolism?

The following are common symbols used in literary works:

  • Symbols referring to damnation:Fire, flames, heat, hot temperatures
  • Symbols referring to salvation:Crosses, angels, haloes, clouds, churches
  • Symbols referring to reincarnation or reinvention:Phoenix rising from flames, crosses, rainbows, passing storms, dawn, sunrise, broken chains
  • Symbols referring to death or endings:Gravestones, cemeteries, Grim Reaper, Day of the Dead, skulls, candle blowing out, coffin, ringing of bell
how do writers use symbolism
How Do Writers Use Symbolism?

Writers insert symbols into their writing to allude to a feeling, mood or attitude without directly stating the perspective or mood intended. Symbolism is supplemental to the story.

  • Encourage your students to try using symbolism to supplement their work as they write short stories or poetry. Help them weave the symbols into the stories so that the symbols support the story line and mood, rather than sticking out like an obvious literary device.
precursors and origins
Precursors and origins
  • Symbolism was largely a reaction against naturalism and realism, anti-idealistic styles which were attempts to represent reality in its gritty particularity, and to elevate the humble and the ordinary over the ideal. Symbolism was a reaction in favour of spirituality, the imagination, and dreams. Some writers, such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, began as naturalists before becoming symbolists; for Huysmans, this change represented his increasing interest in religion and spirituality. Certain of the characteristic subjects of the decadents represent naturalist interest in sexuality and taboo topics, but in their case this was mixed with Byronicromanticism and the world-weariness characteristic of the fin de siècle period.
  • The symbolist poets wished to liberate techniques of versification in order to allow greater room for "fluidity", and as such were sympathetic with the trend toward free verse, as evident by the poems of Gustave Kahn and Ezra Pound. Symbolist poems were attempts to evoke, rather than primarily to describe; symbolic imagery was used to signify the state of the poet's soul. T.S. Eliot was one of these poets, although it has also been said that 'Imagism' was the style to which both Pound and Eliot subscribed (see Pound's Des Imagistes). Synesthesia was a prized experience; poets sought to identify and confound the separate senses of scent, sound, and colour.
Symbolism is a typical element of literary fiction. Authors include symbolism in their work to give it deeper meaning, using figurative language and description.
  • Symbolism is the implied or interpreted being of an object or ritual found in writing, art and customs.