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					Symbolism and Allegory
     Layers of Meaning
 What Symbols Stand For

• A symbol is often an ordinary
object, event, person, or animal to
     which we have attached
   extraordinary meaning and
• We use a rectangle of dyed cloth to
        symbolize a country.
• We use a picture of   • We send red roses
      a skull and         as a symbol of
    crossbones to         love.
   symbolize poison
      or danger.
Where Do Symbols Come From?

• Symbols can be inherited or invented

• The most familiar symbols have been
  inherited, meaning, they have been
  handed down over time
• For example: no one       • The lion became a
  really knows who first      public symbol that
  thought of using a lion     shows up in art and
  as a symbol of power,       literature, even today!
  courage and               • Can you think of some
  domination                  examples of how lions
• Once these qualities        are used as a symbol
  were associated with        of courage and power?
  the animal, images of
  lions appeared on
  flags, banners, coats
  of arms and castle
        • People through out history have
           endowed ordinary objects with
          meanings far beyond their simple
A crown symbolizes   An olive
                     meaning,        Five linked
royalty                branch            rings
                     symbolizes        symbolize
                       peace              the
                                     Writers often take a new object,
• Symbols can also be invented.      character, or event and make it
• What is the symbol for our school? the embodiment of some human
                                     Some invented symbols in
                                     literature have become so widely
                                     known that they often have
                                     gained the status of public

                                                  For example:
                                                  Peter Pan is a
                                                  symbol for eternal
         Why Create Symbols?
 You may ask why writers don’t just come right out and say
                       what they mean.
• Symbols allow writers to suggest layers and layers of
  meaning-possibilities that a simple, literal statement
  could never convey.
• A symbol is like a pebble cast into a pond: It sends out
  ever widening ripples of meaning
   In the short story Marigolds, a poor
    woman has no beauty in her world
except the dazzling marigolds she plants
    around her ramshackle house. The
children in the story, who are as poor as
 the old woman, hate the flowers and all
    that they stand for, In a moment of
thoughtless hatred and violence, one girl
       destroys all the bright flowers.
• While the flowers are REAL flowers in
  the story, we also get the sense that
  they symbolize something else,
  something larger than the flowers
                     What do you think the
                     marigolds stand for?
• Some readers might think they
  symbolize hope and beauty and that the
  children are so angry about their
  poverty that they want to destroy
  anything that expresses the beauty of
  another world.
• Other readers will have different ideas
  about what the marigolds stand for, but
  most will agree that the marigolds work
  on more than just a literal level in the
• You may not be able to articulate fully
  what a certain symbol means, but you
  will always find that the symbol, if it s
  powerful and well chosen, will speak
  forcefully to your emotions and to your
• You may also find that you will
  remember and think about the symbol
  long after you have forgotten other
  Allegory: Split Level Stories
• An allegory is a story in which
  characters, settings and actions stand
  for something beyond themselves.
• In some types of allegories, the
  characters and setting represent
  abstract ideas of moral qualities.
• In other types, characters and situations
  stand for historical figures and events.
• An allegory can be
  read on one level for
  its literal or
  straightforward         • Allegories are often
  meaning                   intended to teach a
• And on a second level     moral lesson or to
  for its symbolic, or      make a comment
  allegorical, meaning.     about goodness and
 • Some of the most famous
 allegories feature characters
   and places whose names
describe what they symbolize.
• In an old English play called Everyman, the
  main character is named Everyman (he
  stands for exactly what his name indicates).
• One day, Everyman is summoned by Death
  to give an accounting of his life
• Everyman asks his friends Fellowship,
  Beauty, Strength and Good Deeds to go
  with him to tell Death that he has led a good
• Only Good Deeds stays with him until the
• The allegory in Everyman doesn’t get in the
  way of a very good story
• In fact Everyman written in the 1400s, is still
  revived in theaters today and it still gets
  good reviews!
What Are Some More Allegories?
                        Here we have a picture of a
                        serpent (snake) and an apple.

                        What are some things that come
                        to mind when you see this
Often times, a serpent or snake is used to symbolize
temptation or trouble. This allegory stems from it’s biblical
What does the apple stand for?
     Symbolism vs. Allegory
• A symbol is a word, place, character, or
  object that means something beyond what it
  is on a literal level.
• An allegory involves using many
  interconnected symbols or allegorical figures
  in such as way that in nearly every element of
  the narrative has a meaning beyond the literal
  level, i.e., everything in the narrative is a
  symbol that relates to other symbols within
  the story.
        Symbols and Allegory
       in stories we have read

The Most Dangerous Game:
Zaroff: Allegory for ________________

Thank You M’am:
Shoes: Symbol for ________________
The Casks of Amontillado:
Fortunato: Symbol/Allegory

The Sniper:
War: Allegory for_________________
           Examples of
       Symbolism and Allegory

Now we will watch several video clips.
 Please follow the instructions on your
Remember the
“Scarlet Ibis”?
What did it
symbolize in the
   Introduction to Symbolism
• Symbolism = an ordinary object, event,
  person, or animal to which we have
  attached extraordinary meaning and