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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698 views

Is the heart in “The Hunt” associated with Desire?

One symbol that is repeatedly associated with Desire is a crystal heart. This appears in several Sandman stories, including in each Endless member's gallery. (Each Endless has a gallery, containing ...
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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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Meaning of President “Coin” in the Hunger Games books?

My impression was that the name Coin is meaningful as opposed to arbitrary. My thoughts on the meaning so far are: "Other side of the same coin" in that Coin represents the good guys, but ...
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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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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. ...
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Symbolism of Occam's death in Straight Man?

In Richard Russo's novel Straight Man, the protagonist Hank claims to be a philosophical disciple of William of Occam, and applies Occam's razor to his approach to deduction many times. As I recall, ...
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2answers
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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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2answers
732 views

What is the significance of the “suffocation scene” at Tchermashnya in Brothers Karamazov?

I'm re-reading The Brothers Karamazov and was struck again by a strange scene whose meaning isn't immediately clear to me. In "Lyagavy", Part 3, Book 8, Chapter 2 of The Brothers Karamazov, ...
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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 ...
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What does the sukebind represent?

Stella Gibbons invented the sukebind for Cold Comfort Farm, and she wields it with metaphorical deftness as if it had its own long floriographic history to draw on. I'd assumed that the sukebind and ...
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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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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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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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What does Tiriel's blindness symbolize?

In Tiriel, it's mentioned several times that Tiriel is blind, first in Chapter I, line 27: Look at my eyes, blind as the orbless skull among the stones! And later again in Chapter II, lines 61-65: ...
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Is there any textual evidence that this death in Deathly Hallows symbolized the end of childhood?

In the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we see that Hedwig is killed by the Avada Kedavra curse. "No - HEDWIG!" The broomstick spun to earth, but he just managed to seize the ...
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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 symbolism of the yo-yo in V.?

The yo-yo is mentioned often in Thomas Pynchon's V., including in a few chapter names. What does it symbolize?
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5answers
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227 days in Life of Pi, coincidence or symbolical?

I'm wondering whether it is known whether the 227 days in Life of Pi symbolical is for pi or that the symbolism I see (as a mathematician :)) is pure coincidence. I think that it is symbolic for pi ...
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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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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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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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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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In what way is the poem 'Tissue' by Imtiaz Dharker related to power / conflict?

For GCSE English in Britain, the language section involves 15 poems we have to write about in the exam. In 45 minutes, we get one of the poems, and we have to compare it to another of the 14 poems ...
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Is Deeper Magic something more than God (the Emperor beyond the Sea) in Narnia?

When Aslan is asked why he has to die in the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he answers something in the sense that there is a "deeper magic" that he has to obey. What exactly is this "deeper ...
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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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What is the significance of the fact that the covered wagons were traveling East at the end of Atlas Shrugged?

At the very end of Atlas Shrugged, a group of covered wagons picks up people who were stranded by the Comet's demise. Is it significant that they're heading east (e.g. that they were somehow "undoing" ...
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Who did Simon represent during his conversation with the beast?

The Beast's conversation with Simon is one of my favorite conversations in literature. The fact that the beast represents the devil (Beelzebub specifically), leads me to think that Simon is playing ...
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1answer
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To the Lighthouse — “Whitening before rain”

From Virgina Woolf's To the Lighthouse: It was fringed with joy. The wheelbarrow, the lawnmower, the sound of poplar trees, leaves whitening before rain, rooks cawing brooms knocking, dresses ...
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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 is the meaning of the rescue of Tashtego?

In Moby Dick, Tashtego falls into the sinking head of a sperm whale from which the crew was extracting the spermaceti; he is saved by Queequeg who cuts the head and extracts Tashtego as if the head ...
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Is the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill based on real life events?

Jack and Jill went up the hill To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, And Jill came tumbling after. Up Jack got, and home did trot, As fast as he could caper, ...
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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 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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What is the meaning of Christmas in In Memoriam A.H.H.?

While reading Tennyson's In Memoriam A.H.H., written in honor of his close friend Arthur Henry Hallam, I noticed that Christmas is a recurring theme. In appears several times: Sections XXVIII - XXX, ...
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What is the significance of the black void in “The Dancer on the Stairs”?

Sarah Tolmie's novelette The Dancer on the Stairs is a kind of portal fantasy, with the protagonist whisked away from our world into a strange fantastical one -- except the place she is whisked to is ...
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Was Atticus's name meant to mean anything?

I am currently studying Latin, and somewhere I read about a man named Titus Pompons Atticus, and as a lover of literature, I do not like to assume that it is just a coincidence that Atticus Finch of ...
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593 views

Was Rand al'Thor supposed to be a symbol for Jesus?

Rand al'Thor has several moments that could be considered "biblical", including (spoilers): Has Robert Jordan ever commented on this? I am really looking for a quote by either Robert Jordan or ...
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What is the symbolism of the conch in Lord of the Flies?

In the Lord of the Flies, the conch is shattered when Piggy dies. Before that, it was held by Ralph, the de facto leader of the boys. What does the conch symbolize?
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What concept of love does Tolstoy suggest in Anna Karenina?

I know one of the characteristics of realistic works is they are mostly formulated as some independent studies of the life of society but, at the same time, I realise that the dominant approach to art ...
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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 is the symbolism of the final rise of the Kraken?

I've been studying a lot of Tennyson, and I recently read The Kraken. The first 12 lines seem relatively straightforward, describing the giant beast that sleeps at the bottom of the sea, but the final ...
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What does the letter V in Thomas Pynchon's book symbolize?

Obviously, V. is a character in the book, known only by her initial. That initial is also the title of the book, which actually includes the period. But I assume this title/name symbolizes something ...
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The woods as a symbol in Young Goodman Brown

In the short story "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main character spends a great deal of the story traveling through a "dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest"...
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What is the significance/symbolism of the Cyclical book being cyclical in “The Library of Babel”?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the speaker describes the cyclical book as (The mystics claim that their ecstasy reveals to them a circular chamber containing a great circular book, ...
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What is the significance/symbolism of the hexagon in “The Library of Babel”?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the speaker describes the Library, as the universe, as The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite ...
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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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What does the “crimson hexagon” represent in “The Library of Babel”?

In The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges, the speaker says, They were urged on by the delirium of trying to reach the books in the Crimson Hexagon: books whose format is smaller than usual, all-...
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What does the rose represent in “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner?

In A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, Faulkner never mentions rose as a noun, only as a past tense verb throughout the work. However, its position as one of two primary words within the title, ...
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In “Pierre Menard, Author of The Quixote” is Menard an analogy for a critical lens?

In Pierre Menard, Author of The Quixote by Jorge Luis Borges, the narrator of the work talks about how when he read Don Quixote after having been told that Pierre Menard had rewritten it with the same ...
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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 ...