Studying The Symbolism In Literature And Poems English Literature Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Symbolism is the implied or interpreted as being an object found in writings, art and customs. Symbols have meaning that is recognized by a society or culture. A literary symbol can be a setting, character, action, object, or anything else in a work that maintains its literal significance while suggesting other meanings. Style is nothing but the author's choice of words and their arrangements play a major role as I will show in Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour", Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" and William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily".

In Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour" there are several symbols that help create a feeling of comfort and wellness. The first symbol is of a "comfortable chair" that Mrs. Mallard sinks into after she receives the news of her husband's death. Then, of the open window, which she sits in front of looking out seeing tops of trees that all quiver with the new spring life.(DiYanni, R., 2007, p.38) The words "comfortable", "sank", symbolize a feeling of being embraced by the chair, a feeling of warmth. She sees the tops of trees that quiver with new life which symbolize something new happening in her life.

The setting of a "delicious breath of rain" in the air seems to refer to the calmness after the storm. (DiYanni, R., 2007, p.38) Kate Chopin I believe uses this to refer to the death of Mrs. Mallards' husband and the new life she may now have since she is free of him. Mrs. Mallard is described as young and having "a fair, calm face" symbolizing the beauty. (DiYanni, R., 2007, p.38) The reader can feel for her as she describes the way she had loved him at times, but more often not, and how she would be able to live her life for herself and no one else. When you look at these symbols you can see how Kate Chopin wanted her readers to feel a sense of comfort. The symbols are just a basis to the story; so much more can be pulled from the word choices and objects in this story.

In the poem by Edgar Allan Poe "The Raven" there are several symbols used but the most obvious is the Raven itself. Other symbols used are the Pallas, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, and midnight and December. I think the Raven is used to show how the self-torture the narrator has put himself in. The Pallas is used to show the reader that in a big room the raven picks the Greek Goddess of Wisdom to perch itself on. I think this is done to make the reader think that the raven speaks from wisdom. Midnight and December are used to represent the end of a day; and December represents a new year.

To me Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" makes the reader think of a lonely man that is in a furnished room that reminds him of his lost love, Lenore. The storm outside shows more of his isolation, and is a contrast between the calmness of the chamber and the night. His stories are like puzzles that he wants his readers to have to dig down to figure out the logic and meaning of them.

In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" the most important symbol is Miss Emily's house. It is described as: a big squarish frame house that had once been white decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavenly lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores. (DiYanni, R., 2007, p.79) This leaves the reader to think that the family had money most likely earned from slavery and that the house was allowed to decay.

Other symbols are the pocket watch, the stationary, and the hair. When the members of the board of Alderman visit Miss Emily about the taxes due they hear her pocket watch ticking, but never see it. This shows to me that that she is always aware of the time. The stationary is another symbol of time, just in a different way. The letter the town gets from Miss Emily is written "on paper of an archaic shape, in a thin flowing calligraphy in faded ink" (DiYanni, R., 2007, p.79)

The hair is another symbol of time. The town tells time by Emily's hair, and when she disappears in her house after her hair has turned "a vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man" (DiYanni, R., 2007, p.79) The narrator tells us that Homer's final resting place had not been open in 40 years, which is how long he had been missing. But, Emily's hair did not turn iron gray until around 1898, several years after Homer's death. The taxes can be a symbol of death of Miss Emily's father. It could also be a symbol of the financial problems her father was having that he kept from Emily and the town until his death.

A literary symbol can be a setting, character, action, object, or anything else in a work that maintains its literal significance while suggesting other meanings. As I have shown symbolisms in literature and poems are not always what they seem to be. Sometimes, there is more to literature and poems than meets the eye.