Questions tagged [symbolism]

Questions concerning symbolic features in a work of literature. Both symbols and the things they represent can be either tangible or intangible. Not to be confused with the [motif] tag or [meaning] tag. This tag is not to be used for questions about Symbolism as a movement in (mainly French) literature, unless such questions are about the use of symbols. See the tag wiki for more information.

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Which real birds are most strongly associated with fire? [closed]

Birds generally are symbols of high power, e.g. the sun. Excluding mythical birds, which real species are most strongly associated with power, magic, and specifically fire in particular?
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What does the sword represent in poem 52 of Tagore's English Gitanjali?

In poem 52 of Tagore's English version of Gitanjali, a female persona speaks of a gift that a man or lover left her: What token left of thy love? It is no flower, no spices, no vase of perfumed water....
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Why did Halle have butter all over his face

In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, Sethe's husband Halle never came back to Baby Suggs' house after planning to run away from Sweet Home. After Paul D arrives, he later blurts out to Sethe of what he ...
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What did Avni Doshi try to convey towards the very end of “Girl in White Cotton” / “Burnt Sugar”?

Towards the very end of her novel, Avni portrays a scene where the protagonist Antara is together with all the characters introduced in the novel (except Kali Mata). They are having a family get ...
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Why is a sorrowing heart called “Sultan” and a stone heart called “burial site” in this verse of Saint Kabir?

I came across this verse of the great Indian poet Saint Kabir: बिरहा बुरहा जिनि कहौ, बिरहा है सुलतान। जिस घटि बिरह न संचरै, सो घट सदा मसान॥ birahaa burahaa jini kahau, birahaa hai sulataan jis ghaTi ...
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What is the significance of “southern” in Tagore's poem “A Hundred Years From Now”?

The Bengali poem "Aaji Hote Shata Barsha Pare" by Rabindranath Tagore, translated into English as "A Hundred Years Hence" or "A Hundred Years From Now", is a poem written ...
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Why does Coriolanus describe the common people as many-headed?

Coriolanus describes the people and tribunes as many-headed in multiple instances. "[H]e himself stuck not to call us the many-headed / multitude" (2.3.16-17). Here the citizens discuss ...
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Symbolism of the Mind Game in Ender's Game

I was recently discussing Ender's Game in The Reading Room, and I mentioned that I reread it because I felt that there were things that I had not understood. One of these things is the Mind Game. ...
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What's the significance of “Oranges and Lemons” in 1984?

The popular London nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons is quoted and partially recited several times throughout 1984. Winston learns about it from Mr Charrington in Part 1, Chapter 8, then talks about it ...
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Who or what does Benjamin the donkey represent in Animal Farm?

Benjamin is the old, irritable donkey who doesn't care who's in control, because he says that work will be the same either way. He is one of the few on the farm who can read, and who still remembers ...
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Are Vin and Elend symbolically linked to Preservation and Ruin in The Hero of Ages?

In Brandon Sanderson's The Hero of Ages (book three of the Mistborn trilogy), Preservation and Ruin are two anthropomorphized forces of nature, evenly matched in their struggle against one another. ...
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What's with the dogs in Mark Strand's “Eating Poetry”?

In Mark Strand's poem "Eating Poetry", the first several lines appear to be about a person who has been consuming poetry - I interpreted this as metaphorical, "eating" poetry as in ...
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In Animal Farm, what is the significance of the gun’s placement at the foot of the flagpole?

What is the significance of Mr. Jones's gun’s placement at the foot of the flagpole? Is there anything that this represents?
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What do Connie's two navels represent?

Nick Joaquin's story "The Woman Who Had Two Navels" opens with the following words: When she told him she had two navels he believed her at once: (...) "She" is Connie de Vidal, ...
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Is there any connection between the reticence of Lady Anne and the cat-bird subplot?

While answering another question, I read Saki's short story The Reticence of Lady Anne" from his Reginald in Russia collection. Inasmuch as a story this short can be said to have "plotlines&...
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What is the symbolism of the sun in this Bengali short story “The House of Wax”?

"The House of Wax" is a short story by Subodh Ghosh, translated from Bengali to English by Somrita Ganguly. It's about a man and woman who meet at a train station years after getting ...
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Why were these animals used to represent the different countries in Maus?

In Art Spiegelman's Maus, he represents different people from different countries as different animals. For instance, he represents the Jews as mice, the Germans as cats, the Polish as pigs, the ...
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What do the cypress, rose, and wild herb symbolise in this description of Feridoun's rule?

From the second part of the Shahnameh: Five hundred years did Feridoun rule the world, and might and virtue increased in the land, and all his days he did that which was good. And he roamed ...
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What is the significance of 36 in the Vietnamese poem “Learning Late Letters”?

"Learning Late Letters", a poem originally written in Vietnamese by Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên, was one of the winners of the 2020 Words Without Borders Academy of Americans Poets Poems in ...
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What do the silks and tattoos represent in Sui-Yun's poem about Eve?

One of the Peruvian writer Sui-Yun's Four Short Poems (translated from Spanish by Jennifer Shyue) is written as addressed to "Eve, my eternal mother". I hope I'm not being excessively dirty-...
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Why is Hemingway's generation a ‘lost generation’?

I recently began reading Hemingway’s memoir, A Moveable Feast. In it, Hemingway and his contemporary Americans are described as a ‘lost generation’: It was when we had come back from Canada and were ...
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What was Kafka's point in The Metamorphosis'?

When Gregor Samsa awakens to find himself transformed into some type of beetle or roach-like creature, he gives little thought to whys and wherefores but just seems to attempt to deal with his ...
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What is “This is Just to Say” about?

In "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams, the speaker appears to deliver an apology for stealing the plums of the person at whom the poem is targeted. I have heard some people analyze this ...
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Who does the cat represent in Animal Farm?

It's well known that various characters represent real Soviet figures. Who does the cat, who is fond of shirking physical work but enjoys reaping the rewards, represent? Does the cat even have any ...
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Why are Orcs associated with the colors red, yellow, and black in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings?

In Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series, Sauron, and characters allied with Sauron, are frequently associated with the colors red, yellow, and black. For example, here is a description of the ...
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Who does Mollie represent in Animal Farm?

It's well known that various characters represent real Soviet figures. Who does Mollie, the horse sympathetic to the humans, represent? Is she just a generic non-Soviet sympathizer or does she ...
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Symbolism of Billy Nolan in Carrie

Billy Nolan is a resentful, vindictive and abusive teenager who supplies Chris Hargensen with Pig blood for a prank that occurs within Stephen King's story Carrie. In it, King writes several passages ...
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Why so many poems about fish in Through The Looking-Glass?

Lewis Carroll's famous flight of fantasy Through the Looking-Glass, a sequel to the even more famous Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, contains a lot of nonsense poetry, much of which relates to fish. ...
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The meaning of the poem “Crucified” by Kahlil Gibran

I am a high school student, and my assignment was to find intertextuality of the crucifixion of Christ and write a reflection about it. I was surfing on the web, and found a poem called "Crucified" ...
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Why does the Whether Man live in Expectations, and why does he talk like this?

I've just started re-reading The Phantom Tollbooth, a fantastic tale of wit and wordplay. Every place and person that Milo meets through this story is rich in symbolism, and every piece of description ...
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Gift of the Magi: Literary Analysis: Symbolism and Ttime

In O. Henry's short story The Gift of the Magi, Della's hair is likened to a "brown waterfall." Why is that symbolism significant? I've been wracking my brain, and I was thinking it maybe ...
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What's the symbolism of the flowers in The Winter's Tale?

In Act IV, Scene IV of The Winter's Tale, Perdita is "mistress o' the feast", playing hostess at the sheep-shearing feast, when King Polixenes and Camillo arrive in disguise. Perdita gives them both ...
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In how many ways can you interpret this haiku poem? [closed]

What may be the possible (hidden) interpretations of this poem (written by me), which uses a form of Japanese poetry called 'haiku'? a filled bow, stretched with zest- the smile flies How would the ...
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Outline the symbolism of “The astronaut in Isolation” by Rosalind Morris

“The astronaut in Isolation” by Rosalind Morris is a poem that was published on Daily Maverick on 30 April 2020. It's a new poem and there is no interpretation of this anywhere on the web. I would ...
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Is there any symbolism in Casey at the Bat?

Casey at the Bat is one of my all-time favorite poems. I always thought it was just about baseball. But is it? Is there a metaphor or an allegory hidden somewhere in the last inning of a baseball ...
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What does Mr World represent in the American Gods book?

The American Gods Wikia site claims that Mr World is a personification of globalisation. That definitely seems to be true in the TV series (see the creepiest rant ever made about salsa), but in the ...
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Symbolic interpretations of William Horwood's Callanish?

William Horwood's short novel Callanish is about a golden eagle in London Zoo and his struggles with captivity and freedom. It was Horwood's second novel about eagles, after the extraordinarily good ...
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What role or symbolic purpose do polar bears serve in The North Water?

The North Water by Ian McGuire is a modern novel in the tradition of historical realism, set in the high arctic. It is a violent, masculine novel with a clear debt to the work of Cormac McCarthy which ...
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Who is Yossarian's pal?

In Catch-22, Chapter 41 ("Snowden"), Yossarian is under medical care after an attempt on his life. He's apparently fading in and out of consiousness at this point: Yossarian vomited, and Colonel ...
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What is the purpose of all the gustatory imagery (food imagery) in “The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick?

Anyone who has read the novella The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick might have noticed it is rich with gustatory imagery. In the first part of the novella, food imagery (i.e. lack of food) illustrates hunger ...
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Why is black evil and white good?

This trope appears everywhere in literature - especially in fantasy. Everywhere you turn, black means bad and white means good. This is particularly true when applied to people, or the consequences of ...
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What does “Burning” symbolize in “Burning the Old Year”?

In Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye, Nye refers to "notes", "lists", and "letters" as things that can be burned. From reading this poem, I interpret the theme to be the short time for which ...
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In “Bullet the Blue Sky”, what is the symbolism of Jacob and the angel?

U2's song "Bullet the Blue Sky" was inspired by Bono's trip to El Salvadore in 1986, and America's role on the Salvadoran Civil War. As Bono said in an interview, And it upset me as a person who ...
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What does a dog barking at a crow signify?

In Much ado about nothing by William Shakespeare, Act 1 Scene 1, Beatrice declares to Benedick 'I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swears he loves me.' I understand that Beatrice ...
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What does “the sad height” represent in “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas?

In the final stanza of Dylan Thomas's Do not go gentle into that good night, he says, And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go ...
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Meaning of “rose” and “bleu” in Alain Bashung's “Résidents de la république ”

Alain Bashung's song “Résidents de la république” (part of the album Bleu pétrole, 2008) contains the following lines: Résidents, résidents de la république Où le rose a des reflets bleus The ...
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Any significance to the “Dutch clock” and “Chinese plate” in Eugene Field's “The Duel”?

I just learned from an answer to an ID question about the poem "The Duel", or "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat", in which Eugene Field describes a vicious fight between two stuffed animals as told ...
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What does “in the Ring” mean in “Because I could not stop for Death”?

3rd stanza: We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess – in the Ring – We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – We passed the Setting Sun – I've heard of attempts justifying an ...
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How is inner conflict presented in the poem “Tissue”?

We haven't studied this poem in clas due to the COVID-19 outbreak and schools shutting down, but we have made annotations for the poem. However nothing about conflict came up. Have you got anyideas ...
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Significance in Raskolnikov's name in Crime and Punishment?

The protagonist/antihero of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment is Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. As it says on Wikipedia: The name Raskolnikov derives from the Russian raskolnik meaning "schismatic"...