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Symbols and Symbolism. A symbol is anything that hints at something else, usually something abstract, such as and idea or belief. A literary symbol is an object, a person, a situation, or an action that has a literal meaning in a story but suggests or represents other meanings. General

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symbols and symbolism
Symbols and Symbolism
  • A symbol is anything that hints at something else, usually something abstract, such as and idea or belief.
  • A literary symbol is an object, a person, a situation, or an action that has a literal meaning in a story but suggests or represents other meanings.
two types of symbols
General

A general symbol is universal in its meaning. Even if a general symbol were removed from a work of literature, it would still suggest a larger meaning.

Ex: Rose

Two Types of Symbols
two types of symbols1
Specific

A specific symbol is not universal in its meaning. It acquires a specific meaning based on how it relates to the content of a novel, poem, etc. The symbol’s significance exists only within the content created by the author.

Ex: Mockingbird in To Kill a Mockingbird

Two Types of Symbols
when writing about symbolism
When writing about symbolism…
  • Identify the symbol, noting if an object
      • Appears repeatedly,
      • Has an unusually vivid quality,
      • Is described with language conveying much emphasis, or
      • Has more significance than its literal reality would suggest.
when writing about symbolism1
When writing about symbolism…
  • Determine symbolic meanings.
    • Carefully examine how the symbol functions in relation to the story.
    • Ask yourself what idea is represented by the symbol.
when writing about symbolism2
When writing about symbolism…
  • Classify the symbols.
    • Classification may reveal opposite relationships, such as symbols of good and evil, life and death, or eternal and ephemeral.
    • Symbols may also fall into isolated categories, such as destruction, innocence, or sexuality.
when writing about symbolism3
When writing about symbolism…
  • Classify the meaning of a symbol.
    • Determine how much depth a particular symbol has and classify its possible meanings.
    • While your paper may focus on only one major symbol, you may be able to divide it into two specific meanings and two general meanings.
remember
Remember!
  • A symbol has a literal meaning in a story but suggests or represents other meanings.
  • Not all symbolism is obvious; often it is subtle and indirect.