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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13
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1answer
487 views

What's the significance of Faust's meeting being on Easter Day?

In Goethe's Faust, the eponymous (anti?)hero meets the demon Mephistopheles on what seems to be Easter Sunday, during local celebrations of Easter. Given the religious themes in the story, this surely ...
29
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3answers
11k views

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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1answer
114 views

What does “a star” symbolize here?

Each morning gives thee wings to flee from hell, Each night a star to guide thy feet to heaven. This verse has been taken from the poem "Opportunity" by Walter Malone. What does "a ...
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0answers
202 views

Is there any significance to the format of Aziz's name?

One of the main protagonists in the outer frame story of Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love is a man named Aziz Z. Zahara. This name immediately struck me because of its interesting relationship ...
16
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1answer
1k views

Symbolism of “hot gammon” in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land

I'm reading T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land (which you can read for free online) and one particular line stuck out at me: Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon, And they ...
15
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1answer
1k views

How does the golden bough in “Sailing to Byzantium” relate to the story in the Aeneid, if at all?

According to Wikipedia of W.B. Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium" is a metaphor for a spiritual journey. Yeats explores his thoughts and musings on how immortality, art, and the human spirit may ...
3
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1answer
120 views

What do the yellow banners in Edgar Allan Poe's “The Haunted Palace” symbolize?

The story "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe contains a poem, "The Haunted Palace", which starts like this: In the greenest of our valleys,     By good angels ...
14
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3answers
3k views

Symbolism of Albus Dumbledore's name in Harry Potter

What is the symbolism of the name Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter? 'Albus' means white 'Dumbledore' is a type of bee What is this representing?
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18 views

Do “rain and elder bloom” signify anything in Hazel's last dream?

At the end of Watership Down, in the Epilogue covering just before this happens, he has a final dream which is something about "rain and elder bloom": One chilly, blustery morning in March,...
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4answers
2k views

What does Pudd'nhead Wilson's joke about half a dog mean?

In Pudd'nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain, the character David Wilson makes a remark that results in the townspeople writing him off as a "pudd'nhead". He had just made the acquaintance of a group of ...
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2answers
8k views

What does the raven symbolize (besides death)?

Whenever I ask a friend about the symbolism of the Raven from The Raven, they always seem to say death. Is that the only thing the Raven is meant to symbolize?
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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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1answer
81 views

How is black being portrayed in “Black, Their Regalia” by Darcie Little Badger?

Black features fairly prominently in "Black, Their Regalia" by Darcie Little Badger - it's in the title, and black is fairly prominent throughout the story. The Apparently Siblings play neoclassical ...
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0answers
59 views

Understanding and interpreting Yeats phases of the moon

I recently came across this lovely poem whilst watching the (excellent) TV show Rake The song will have it That those that we have loved got their long fingers From death, and wounds, or on Sinai's ...
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49 views

Why these specific “things that fly” in “Kite-Flying”?

Rose Justice, the main character of Rose Under Fire, writes several poems that appear in various places in the book. This is the second verse of Kite-Flying: Hope waits stubbornly, watching the sky ...
6
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1answer
625 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 ...
5
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1answer
170 views

“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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0answers
41 views

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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0answers
58 views

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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1answer
144 views

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 ...
12
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1answer
2k views

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. ...
6
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1answer
312 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
404 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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0answers
24 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
117 views

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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1answer
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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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1answer
74 views

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 ...
18
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1answer
2k views

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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0answers
49 views

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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1answer
5k views

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, ...
3
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0answers
365 views

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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72 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
89 views

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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1answer
90 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
82 views

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 ...
24
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5answers
46k views

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 ...
12
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3answers
7k views

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 ...
10
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1answer
390 views

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. ...
2
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1answer
75 views

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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0answers
64 views

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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0answers
50 views

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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1answer
181 views

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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0answers
15 views

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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2answers
58k views

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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1answer
37 views

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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0answers
32 views

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 ...
3
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0answers
35 views

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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3answers
1k views

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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0answers
44 views

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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3answers
1k views

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 ...