All terms

What is a Symbol?

A symbol is a representation of an object, concept, or idea through the use of a physical object or image.

Unlocking the Deeper Meanings Behind Symbols in Creative Writing

As a creative writer, the use of symbols can be an incredibly powerful tool in your arsenal, allowing you to convey complex emotional and intellectual themes with a single image or object. Whether it's a rose representing love, death portraying mortality, or even something more abstract like water embodying change, a symbol can say so much more than mere words ever could.

Etymologically, the word symbol comes from the Greek word 'symbolon', meaning a mark or sign that represents something else. In literature, a symbol is often used to evoke a particular emotion or idea in the reader, and their interpretation can be influenced by the culture, era, and personal experiences of both the writer and reader.

The use of symbols requires careful consideration when crafting your writing, as confusing or inconsistent symbols can make your work feel disjointed and unprofessional. Ensure that your symbols are grounded in the internal logic and themes of the story and are presented in a way that both respects and challenges the reader's expectations.

Symbolism in Action: Examples from Literature

Let's explore how symbolism is used in literature with these two examples.

The Roaring Twenties in The Great Gatsby

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the green light shining across the water represents Gatsby's longing for the American Dream and his pursuit of Daisy, while the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg symbolize the decay of moral and societal values in the 1920s.

Religious Symbolism in The Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. Lewis heavily employs religious symbolism in The Chronicles of Narnia, such as the character of Aslan the lion who represents Jesus Christ, and Edmund's betrayal paralleling Judas' betrayal of Jesus.