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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Is there any deeper significance to Borges's “The South”?

"The South" is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges about a man, Dahlmann, who is injured by bashing his head against a window, but makes an almost miraculous recovery after a long stint in hospital. He ...
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What is the “Neon god” in “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel?

In Simon and Garfunkel's song The Sound of Silence1, there is the following passage in lyrics: And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made What is this neon god? Obviously, they ...
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1answer
915 views

Origin of symbolic interpretation of Prospero's breaking of his staff?

At the end of The Tempest, which is generally believed to be the last plays that Shakesepare wrote alone, Prospero breaks his staff and drowns his book. This has often been read as Shakespeare telling ...
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What's the significance of the witches' name change in Sandman?

As mentioned in another question, the three witches are very significant in The Sandman. While that other question asks for their significance in general, I have a much more specific question to ask. ...
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How should we view Dan Conway?

Dan Conway, head of the Phoenix-Durango in Atlas Shrugged, was evidently a superb executive. He also receives (largely) positive treatment in the novel. However, the book also says that he initially ...
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Is Judaism represented in the Narnia books?

In C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, it's very clear that the Narnians are meant to represent Christianity, with Aslan symbolising Jesus (in fact, Aslan is literally Jesus in-universe), while the Calormenes ...
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Why is the robin “sobbing”?

Blake's "The Blossom", part of his Songs of Innocence which you can read online, is a very short poem about a sparrow and a robin. The part about the robin reads as follows: Pretty, pretty robin! ...
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Does Snape talk in code?

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Snape asks Harry many questions during his first Potions class. The first thing Snape asks Harry is “Potter! What would I get if I added powdered ...
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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 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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What is the significance of the anisotropic highway and the skeleton of a fascist chained to a machine gun?

In the beginning of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's novel Hard to Be a God, the protagonist, Anton, goes down a country road, disobeying a "wrong way" sign, and finds a skeleton of a fascist chained to ...
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What did “Moloch” represent in Allen Ginsberg´s poem “Howl”?

In Allen Ginsberg´s poem "Howl", what did "Moloch" represent? What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Moloch! Solitude!...
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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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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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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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1answer
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What is the greater meaning of the thrush?

In 1984, Orwell devotes a few lines to a singing thrush that lands several feet away from Julia and Winston during their first secret meeting. A thrush had alighted on a bough not five metres ...
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What is the deeper meaning of “The Tyger”?

William Blake's poem "The Tyger" is part of his collection Songs of Innocence and of Experience, an extraordinary set of poems which explores ideas such as spirituality, love, poverty, repression, all ...
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Symbolism of Marx and Lenina's names in Huxley's Brave New World?

Reading Brave New World it seemed obvious to me that Bernard Marx and Lenina Crowne are in some way referring to Marx and Lenin, but I couldn't figure out any clue to support this claim. Is it truly ...
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What does the “good night” symbolize in Dylan Thomas's “Do not go gentle into that good night”?

Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas, he begins with "Do not go gentle into that good night". He also uses this as one of two alternating refrains. In this poem, what does the "good ...
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What does Dream's ruby represent?

In Volume One of The Sandman (Preludes and Nocturnes), Dream is held captive for 70 years. After escaping and taking vengeance on his (only surviving) captor, he returns home, to the Dreamworld. ...
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How can “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” be read as a commentary on Scotland?

In the Wikipedia page for Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, one of the mentioned interpretations of the story is as a symbolic representation of Scottish nationalism vs union with ...
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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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How do Pupp's remarks connect with Krazy's in Krazy Kat, 25 July 1936?

This question is about the same Krazy Kat strip (25 July 1936) as in Krazy language in Krazy Kat, 25 July 1936, in which Krazy is making a lot of classical references and Pupp is responding: Krazy: ...
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What is meant by “saints of forties and sevens” in this traditional Turkish hymn?

In the article "Ritual Change in a Turkish Alevi Village" by Thomas McElwain, I found a description of a sacrifice ritual which includes the following nefes (hymn?) recited for a ram: Erler ...
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In Neil Gaiman's “The Sandman”, what do the Three Sisters represent?

The Three Sisters - the Hecatae, the Fates, the Kindly Ones - are ubiquitous in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman (and in other works). They appear in the first volume to give Morpheus three answers: and ...
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How do the letters S, U, F, I symbolise the stages of Aziz's life?

In Elif Şafak's novel The Forty Rules of Love, in Aziz's correspondence with Ella, he tells her his life story, completing the final part when he meets her in person. Each part of his life he refers ...