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What is symbolism and how do we identify it?

Frank Williams

on 24 October 2013

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Transcript of Symbolism

What does the apple represent?
What does the apple represent?
What does this apple represent?
Symbolism: A person, place, thing or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands for something more than itself.
A symbol works two ways: it is something itself, but it suggests something deeper.
Where do you see symbolism in your life?
Three Strikes You In - Ice Cube
Sympathy - Paul Laurence Dunbar

We will read this poem together and complete a worksheet about the symbolism in it.

Then, you will work independently on another poem and gather clues about its symbolism.
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20

This is one of the most famous examples of a poem with a lot of symbolism in it. Any ideas about where there is symbolism?
Symbols are persons, places, or things in a narrative that have significance beyond a literal understanding. The craft of storytelling depends on symbols to present ideas and point toward new meanings. Most frequently, a specific object will be used to refer to (or symbolize) a more abstract
The repeated appearance of an object suggests a non-literal, or figurative, meaning attached to the object. Symbols are often found in the book’s title, at the beginning and end of the story, within a profound
action, or in the name or personality of a character. l.
The life of a novel is
perpetuated by generations of readers interpreting and reinterpreting the
main symbols. By identifying and understanding symbols, readers can
reveal new interpretations of the novel.
Full transcript