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I know that symbolism and imagery are the two powerful devices of modern literature, especially of poetry but a problem arises when I try to have a clear understanding of these devices. When a word or a phrase is used figuratively, I have no idea whether it is a symbol or an image. This is because both happen to appear the same to me. For example, in the sentence "I am trying to plunge into the whirlpool of challenges" is there an image or a symbol?

  • In some sense, all words and images are "signifiers" (signs/symbols). Are you looking for a distinction between when imagery is purely a function of setting, characters or action, as opposed serving a specifically symbolic function that deepens the meaning? Perhaps with examples? – DukeZhou Dec 11 '18 at 19:45

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