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Copy of Imagery, Symbolism, & Theme Notes

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Dorothy Loftin

on 30 January 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Imagery, Symbolism, & Theme Notes

Imagery, Symbolism, & Theme Notes
English I - Fall 2013

Symbols in Literature
Symbols appear frequently in literature.

Most often in stories, symbols come in the form of important objects or characters.

For example...
A character could represent hope.
A ring could represent love.
Springtime could represent rebirth.
A house could represent loss.
Why do authors
use symbolism?
Symbolism allows authors to:
add double levels of meaning to stories (one that is literal and obvious as well as a profound, symbolic one).
capture the reader's interest by making him/her think deeply.
contribute to the story's universality and theme.
make their stories rich and memorable.

Imagery refers to the mental pictures that we experience while reading literature.

When authors use imagery, they are appealing to the reader's imagination by using sensory details.

Images make a text come alive.
What is imagery?
Imagery appeals to all five of our senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch - NOT just to our sight.

Sensory details - descriptive language used to bring a text alive through one or more of the five senses.
Sensory Details
The sun’s beams shimmered and danced on the ocean’s gentle waves.

Although they could not see outside the cabin, they could hear the eerie tapping, tapping, tapping, of his knife upon their door.

Tyler's socks, still soaked with sweat from Tuesday's P.E. class, filled the classroom with an aroma akin to that of salty, week-old, rotting fish.
The familiar comforting warmth of the chicken noodle soup instantly made Mike feel much better.
The icy breeze gently brushed against the hair on her neck, and goose-bumps shortly followed.

An author's use of imagery can help create the setting of a story.

Imagery helps set the stage so that the reader can imagine the events of the story against their backdrop.
Imagery & Setting
Imagery also contributes to the mood of a story because of the emotional response it evokes in readers.
Imagery & Mood
What is symbolism?
Symbolism refers to when a word, place, character, or object means something beyond what it is on a literal level.

Symbols can be cultural, personal, or contextual.
Symbols are all around us!
Where can we find symbols?
What is theme?
The literary term theme refers to:
the idea on which a story is built.
the central idea, or insight, that a story reveals about life or human behavior.

In most stories, the theme is not stated directly. Instead, it is revealed to us through the characters' experiences.
What Theme Is NOT
Theme is not the same thing as the subject or
the moral of a story!

The subject is simply the topic of the story. It can be stated in a single word, such as love.
The moral is the lesson that the story teaches. It is a command about what should or shouldn't be done.
The theme makes some revelation about the subject and should be expressed in a complete sentence.

Subject: Dishonesty
Moral: You should not lie to your loved ones.
Theme: Being dishonest with your loved ones
can cause a lot of pain and heartache.

Clues to Help you
Find a Story's Theme
Writers often express theme through what their characters learn.
Does the main character change? Does he or she learn something?

Conflict helps reveal theme.
How is the conflict resolved? What does the resolution tell us about life?

Sometimes the story's title gives clues to its theme.

The theme applies to the entire work, not just parts of it.
Keep in mind...
There is not one single correct way to state the theme of a work!
People may express the same theme in different words.
People may have different opinions about what the theme of a story is.
The best works of literature usually have more than one theme.
Your Turn

What do you think the theme of
"The Most Dangerous Game" is?

What about "The Cask
of Amontillado?"
Full transcript