Elements of Literature: Character

Symbolism and Allegory Feature Menu Symbol Identifying Symbols Allegory Practice Symbol A symbol is a person, place, thing, or event that stands both for itself and for something beyond itself. Symbols may be

personal public literary Symbol Personal symbols have special meaning for an individual. Symbol Public symbols are widely recognized throughout

a culture and sometimes even universally. Note Symbol Literary symbols are created when writers assign a special, symbolic meaning to something. They appear in works of fiction, poetry, and drama. Color symbolism Symbol

Symbols, whether public or literary, work by association. red rose apple on a desk late night knock Symbol Authors can make use of well-known symbols, create their own symbols, or combine elements of

both public and literary symbols. Public Symbol white + Private Symbol whale =

Literary Symbol Moby Dick [End of Section] Identifying Symbols Not all literary works contain symbols. How do readers know when something is symbolic in a story and when it is not? Characteristics of Symbols

Are often visual Often reappear throughout the work Are a form of figurative language and stand for something essentially different from themselves Usually relate to the works theme Identifying Symbols Quick Check . . . there stood against the western wall a gigantic clock of ebony. . . . and when the minute hand had made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there

came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound . . . of so peculiar a note and emphasis that . . . while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest [dancer] grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows . . . . What might the clock symbolize?

from The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe [End of Section] Allegory An allegory is a narrative in which characters and settings stand for abstract ideas or moral qualities. In an allegory, the entire story is a symbol for something in human life.

Sometimes allegorical characters are named for the abstract quality they represent, such as Good Deeds or Pride. Allegory One type of allegory is the fable. Fables are brief stories that teach a practical lesson about life are set in fantasy worlds where animals speak and think

often have animal characters that symbolize vices and virtues Allegory Another kind of allegory is the parable. Parables are brief stories that teach a lesson about moral behavior or ethics are set in the ordinary, everyday world feature humans as characters Allegory

Quick Check A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite . . . passed by on the on the other side. But a certain Samaritan . . . had

compassion on him and went to him and bound up his wounds . . . Which now of these three . . . was neighbor unto him that fell among thieves? from the King James Bible, Luke 10:3036 Is this excerpt from a fable or a parable? How can you tell?

[End of Section] Practice How many symbols can you find in public life? Try identifying what the following things stand for. 1. dove with an olive branch 2. blindfolded woman holding a pair of scales 3. yellow rose 4. yellow ribbon tied around a tree 5. dragon (dragons stand for different things in the East and the West)

6. pink ribbon on a lapel [End of Section] The End

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