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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6
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562 views

What did the Roll which the Shining Ones delivered to Christian represent?

I've been reading The Pilgrim's Progress - an allegory for the Christian life written by John Bunyan while in prison for his religious beliefs. This passage follows directly after Christian's ...
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“The Gift of the Magi” Literary Analysis: Symbolism and Time

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 significance of the hoofed figure walking a fish in “A Day at the Park”?

"A Day at the Park" is an excellent philosophical comic by Kostas Kiriakakis, featuring two rather odd-looking creatures discussing the merits of questions and answers. (It applies very well ...
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How is inner conflict presented in the poem “Tissue”?

We haven't studied this poem in class 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 any ideas ...
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How to distinguish between imagery and symbolism?

I know that symbolism and imagery are 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 ...
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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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1answer
309 views

What's the symbolism in The Twelve Days of Christmas?

The popular Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" has many different versions, but they're usually something along the lines of the following (final verse, which includes all the others): ...
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2answers
274 views

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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What does the “bedding” symbolize in the Hailsham description in “Never Let Me Go”?

In the exposition of the story, the transformations of the characters as they enter to the adulthood is given in the chapter ten and the reminisces they make are central to the whole story of having ...
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3answers
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What is the symbolism of Atticus killing the mad dog?

So in To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus kills a mad dog. He does it with one shot. Is there some more symbolism to this or is it just an event?
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Why are primroses emphasized at the start and end of Watership Down?

The first paragraph of Watership Down: The primroses were over. Toward the edge of the wood, where the ground became open and sloped down to an old fence and a brambly ditch beyond, only a few fading ...
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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 does this paragraph of “An Equal Music” by Vikram Seth mean?

I'm (re-)reading "An Equal Music" by Vikram Seth and encountered the following paragraph which I do not understand. For context, the book is written in first person perspective (although that isn't ...
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How can you come out dry from the Sea of Knowledge?

In The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, what does Canby mean by: "You can swim all day in the Sea of Knowledge and still come out completely dry. Most people do." What does he try to ...
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What does the Whether Man teach Milo in “The Phantom Tollbooth”?

Everything in the Lands Beyond teaches Milo something, so his first encounter, the Whether Man, what does he teach Milo? Milo confuses the 'Whether' man with the 'Weather' man, when he introduces ...
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The significance of Lucky's speech in 'Waiting for Godot'

In Samuel Beckett's play 'Waiting for Godot', Lucky is the slave of a character called Pozzo. Unlike the other characters in the play who talk compulsively,Lucky utters just two sentences in the play, ...
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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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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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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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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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3answers
992 views

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 ...