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 significance. • 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 walls • 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 Olympics 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 concern. Some invented symbols in literature have become so widely known that they often have gained the status of public symbols. For example: Peter Pan is a symbol for eternal childhood 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 themselves… 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 imagination. • 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 vice. • 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 life. • Only Good Deeds stays with him until the end • 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 image? Often times, a serpent or snake is used to symbolize temptation or trouble. This allegory stems from it’s biblical reference. 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 for____________ The Sniper: War: Allegory for_________________ Examples of Symbolism and Allegory Now we will watch several video clips. Please follow the instructions on your worksheet. Remember the “Scarlet Ibis”? What did it symbolize in the story? Introduction to Symbolism • Symbolism = an ordinary object, event, person, or animal to which we have attached extraordinary meaning and significance.