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Use Of A Wide Variety Of Symbolism English Literature Essay

In One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the first evidence of how Solzhenitsyn uses symbolism to criticize society is the spoon that Shukhov' carries in his boot. It depicts many things about Shukhov’s character as well as many of the hardships and injustice that the prison camp forces upon the inmates.

Shukhov pulled his spoon out of his boot. His little treasure. It had been with him this whole time In the North, he’d cast it with his own two hands and out of aluminum wire and it was embossed with the words “Ust-Izhma 1944” [1] .

The author carries across this criticism through effective use of symbolism. The spoon is Shukhov’s way of holding onto his individuality. It helps portray to the reader the presence of a soul and spirit behind the faded monotonous numbers painted upon Shukov’s jacket. By having the spoon being cast “with his own two hands” the author places emphasis upon personal possession of the spoon. This concept contradicts the idea of shared wealth that is predominant through out the prison camp. Another possibility could be that the author is criticizing the Soviet society at the time, and the harsh gulag system they enforced. He condemns the way that the gulag lifestyle was aimed towards stealing the identity and personal possessions of its inmates. In Chronicles of a Death Foretold, Gabriel García Márquez uses symbolism in a different style, but still to criticize society. He uses many symbols about religious and magical aspects both to foreshadow the death of Santiago Nasar, and criticize the actions of the town. He expresses disapproval of the way that the town is hypocritical about their beliefs, and the way they use it as a means to an end.

It was a fleeting illusion, the bishop began to make the sign of the cross In the air opposite the crowd on the pier, and he kept on doing mechanically afterwards, without malice or inspiration, until the boat was lost from view and all the remained was the uproar of roosters. [2] 

In this extract we can see how the bishop, a man of great faith, does not consider the town worthy of his blessings. It is possible that Marquez intended for the bishop to be a metonymy for religion, and how for the town religion was “lost from view”. Because the town’s community revolves around religious events, involving family, honor and virginity, Gabriel may be utilizing the scenario of the bishop’s passing to symbolize the way that the people of the town’s religious zeal is only surface deep, how their belief was “… was a fleeting illusion [3] …”. The author criticizes people who “pretend” to be religious for social reasons and are hypocritical about their beliefs.

In One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich religious symbols are also used. Through out the book, bread is the symbol of physical and spiritual nutrition. While it is obvious that bread provides physical nutrition, it also has a spiritual signifigance to it. Alyoshka’s mention of “our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer and hints towards the spiritual replenishment that bread gives. At the end of the book, Alyoshka recommends Shukhov to give up his unending “search” for physically nourishing bread and to start finding spiritual satisfaction instead. When Shukhov voluntarily gives Alyoshka one of his valuable biscuits, whilst knowing that he won’t receive anything back, we see that, for the first time in the novel, Shukhov places the needs of his “soul or spirit” in front of those physical needs. His near bliss in the last paragraphs suggests that he has found nourishment for his soul at last. “Shukhov went to sleep fully content. A day without a dark cloud. Almost a happy day [4] “. Here Solzhenitsyn is using the bread, and the spiritual freedom Shukov finds, to describe how, even in the harsh environment of the gulag system, humanity finds way of surviving. He uses Shukhov as a metaphor for methods of surviving in the gulag without the negative “assistance” of the guards. Because Shukov chooses to sustain himself through his own means, his own spoon, his own choice he is able to keep his own dignity intact.

Gabriel uses’s dreams as a very important element of criticism. The week before his death, Santiago Nasar, "dreamed that he was alone in a tinfoil airplane and flying through the almond trees without bumping into anything. [5] " In litrature, flying usually symbolizes one of the highest forms of spiritual ranking; most forms of transportation show spiritual advancement. In general the better the mode of transportation, the more the spirit has “ascended”. Where the trees are concerned, it is rather ironic as the trees are almond trees. These trees are symbolic of virginity and purity, and keeping in mind that trees are mostly feminine, this may be symbolic of Santiago Nasar gliding through a forest of “virginal Angela Vicarios”. One of the most import aspects of this dream, as his airplane did not TOUCH or BUMP into anything, this and therefore doesn’t “defile” the forest with his presence. Gabriel is using the dreams to hint towards the fact that Santiago was innocent of his accused crimes despite his death. Here Gabriel is criticizing the towns people and the society, by pointing out that Nasar was obviously innocent. Because the dream scene is at the very beginning of the novel, throughout the rest of the book the reader feels that that the accusations against Nasar are unjust.

In conclusion, we find that both Solzhenitsyn and Gabriel criticize different aspects of their society through the effective use of symbolism. Alexander use symbolism to criticize the way the harsh gulag system and the soviet life style that is created in the prison camps. The story of a man and the countless struggles of surviving one more day, in combination with subtle symbolism helps to carry across this message. Gabriel uses symbolism to criticize religion and human behavior throughout society through portraying the actions of a hypocritical town and the false accusation of the town’s people. Both of the authors use different form of symbolism such as metonymy and metaphors in order to carry across their message to the reader. For me, they were successful because, throughout both novels, a feeling of resentment was created against the society.

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