In many of the current literary text in English and in other languages, the use of symbolism is a common thing. Symbolism, in fact, is used by many authors to "add flavor" to their writings. The use of symbolism is traced back to the 19th century when it was widely applied in writing by various French poets, two centuries later this style is still relevant and important to English writers. The common question one is probably to ask is, what is symbolism? The simples would be the use of symbols; symbols are objects, individuals, situations or activities that are used to represent more than their plain outward meaning. There are several definitions of symbolism.in this text we review some of the definitions by several different people. "Symbolism in the strict sense means, in the current specialized language, rare strange sensations, morbid air, languorous musicality, elegiac tonality in a modern style, allusive speech, vaporous images, vagueness, inaccuracy, misty reverie, atmosphere"(Micu, 10).
Symbolism is also defined as a style "based on the theory of symbols and sensorial correspondences, it cultivates more refined sensitivity and emotions; it creates the blank verse; it is characterized by inner musicality, by the musical perception of the world; it relies on the force of suggestion; it cultivates solitude, without enthusiasm, but discretely and silently; it cultivates mysticism and intimacy, neuroses and mystery; the preference for autumnal settings and landscapes, there comes the poetry of towns, either large or provincial fairs; sad, melancholic, annihilating, overwhelmed by spleen, there comes the conscience of the void and internal confusion, of moral isolation of the artist's damnation in society."(Mihut, 20).
Symbolism is used by English poets and authors to express the emotions and situations that are hard to explain in the normal plain language. Symbolism is also used to create a twist in the readers' mindset where the reader may interpret the symbols on their own and determine their own meaning of the symbols used by the author. Symbolism has brought about a new dimension word craft to the writing. Symbolism has also introduced new themes to the writing in the English language. The new themes include; "vices, urban nature, solitude, evasion, chromatics, some protesting attitude, the city, the sense of death, wandering, mystery, silence, melancholy and the eulogy of logos" (Gagiu, 1). Symbolism has also created aspects of complexity, obscurity and the loss of any reasonable flow and connection between stories (Gagiu, 2). With the development of symbolism, some objects have come to be associated with a certain symbolic meaning. For example, a rose is associated with love, passion and intimate relationships (Gagiu, 3). The interpretation of the meaning of the symbols, therefore, lies on the reader to determine based on the atmosphere in which the writer creates. This text tries to find out if symbolism is an important part of the modern day literature that is present in English. Many authors of English literature use and embrace symbolism in their writing. The text reviews some of the literal works from several renowned authors in order to qualify the subject topic.
In this section, we discuss the integral functions that symbolism plays in English literature that make it a core part and cannot be replaced. The section discusses these functions based on literal text, where the authors used symbolism for various purposes. First, symbolism is quite relevant and essential in English literature since it enables the author to express key issues in the society without mentioning them per se. Authors are able to praise, criticize and speak out on a certain issue or person in society without raising an eyebrow of the subject individual or society. Many authors have been able to criticize political, religious, and other leaders in the society by using symbols whereby the reader interprets the text on his or her own and is able to conclude that the author is criticizing someone specific in society. Since the author does not use plain words to air his or her views, the author is spared of unnecessary conflicts and complaints from the subjects. Symbolism is a unique figure of speech because it suggests defining a certain person, situation, or action in certain criteria, but does not define them directly. In the poem "London," Blake condemns the acts of the Britain government during his time. Blake uses symbolism to pass his message to those who were able to interpret it. Blake says "How the Chimney-sweeper's cry/every blackening church appalls; / and the hapless soldier's sigh/Runs in blood down the palace walls" (eNotes).Blake uses the Chimney-sweepers has to represent the poorest of the people in the society, condemning the church for not making any effort to help them. The statement "blackening church" symbolizes that the churches were filled with evil from the act of ignoring the poor even though they had an obligation to help them. He also uses the name "palace" to refer to the government, since a palace is a place of high authority and power in a land. He then proceeds to denounce this government for having ignored the state of their soldiers by stating "Soldiers sighs/Runs in blood down the palace walls" (eNotes) This, therefore, shows that symbolism is a great tool for style that is used by authors to criticize certain acts in the acts in the society that the one finds inappropriate.
Secondly, symbolism enables the author to patch several meanings to a text. An author may use a symbol that has several hidden meaning hence, the author is able to send several different messages with one statement. The use of such symbols means that there are several interpretations of the same text by an author. This is a very common case in many literal texts, this forces the reader to concentrate more on the text to get the meaning. For example, the use of colors suggests several meanings, red; for blood, emotions, danger, and passion and white for innocence, light, and purity. These colors have several meanings and therefore the author presents several meanings of the text by using them. In the book "The Great Gatsby," the author to describe the rotting in the society. George Wilson's house is made of yellow material and is the only location described as yellow (Fitzgerald, 55). This color indeed describes the home since it is filled with people of rotten behavior. Mr. Wilson made the decision to get rid of Gatsby without having proper information. Mr. Wilson who is from the same house has extramarital activities when still married to Wilson confirming that this was a morally rotten home (Kyle, 10). In the same instance, the author meant that this home had worn out of age and was approaching death by using the yellow color (Chevalier, & Gheerbrant, 35). This is because Mr. Wilson not only cheats on her husband but also regrets having gotten married to Mr. Wilson, hence a sign of the end of the marriage (Kyle, 15). This two interpretation both make sense hence confirming that symbolism lets author express multiple ideas in the same text.
Symbolism also allows the author to describe a certain individual, event, or activity that is going to happen or has already happened to the reader. This is essential when the reader has no idea of the objects and the events that were present or will be present at the event. Symbolism, therefore, allows the author to use the things that the reader already knows of or has seen to create a pictorial of the subject. The author uses objects, color and character name that are able to pass the message to the target reader. The reader will, therefore, be able to relate this description to the normal objects and events he or she has been in contact with and therefore get the description of the author. For example in the book of Revelation in the Bible, the narrator describes what was to fore come to the people. The narrator says, "I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, 'come!' I looked, and there before me there was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conquer bent on conquest" (Revelation 6: 1-2) in this section the author uses the symbol of a lamb to describe a pure and innocent character. The author also uses the white color to describe the horse meaning that the house was that for peace and meant no harm to the people and was a protector of the people. The while color also symbolizes that the creature was pure, innocent, and was going to bring light and life.
The handing over of the crown is also a symbol of being a leader to the rest, therefore the rider was to reign over a group which is not mentioned. The narration continues "when the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard a second living creature say, "come!' Then another horse came out, a fiery red one" (Revelation 6: 2-4).The author uses the red color to symbolize that the creature which is a horse like was a sign of danger and was probably meant to harm and kill the people. The red color also signifies that this creature would be a source of fire hence dangerous and threatening. The author then proceeds by "When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard a third living creature say, 'come!' I looked and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand" (Revelation 6: 4-6). The color used, black signifies that the creature was a source darkness, fear, evil, and death. Having the scale meant that the creature was to take things from somewhere since the scales would be used for measurement. Authors, therefore, use symbolism to describe future events and those that have already taken place.
Third, symbolism enhances the creativity and the stylistic nature of the text. An author is able to attract a good number of an audience by the use of symbolism as a figure of speech to make enhancements to the literal text. For example the author in the book "Fall in the House of Usher" narrates "I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that around about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity - an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn in the form of an inelastic vapor or gas" (Yamina, 4). The author uses the atmosphere to describe the situation of being close to Usher and the negative impact the Usher would have on someone's life (Yamina, 5). The negative effects are symbolized by the decayed trees and the inelastic gas, these represent misfortunes that occurred to a person if he or she had a close relationship with Usher. This enhances the narration making the narration more enticing and attractive than just merely mentioning that negative things befell those who were around Usher. Symbolism, therefore, enhances the narration making it more decorated.
Finally, symbolism entails majorly providing a hidden meaning and suggesting certain idea indirectly. Symbolism may, therefore, be used to discuss certain issues that may be inappropriate to certain groups in the society, such as the young generation who may find issues associated with sex and marriage inappropriate. Symbolism is used in this case to cushion such groups from having access to such information. The author in this case will use symbols in which people of the older age in the society may be the only ones able to interpret. In the poem "Come Slowly, Eden," Emily uses "lips unused to thee, Bashful, sip thy jasmines, As the fainting bee, Reaching late to his flowers, Round her chamber hums, Counts his nectars - enters" (Dickson, 1).The poet uses the symbol of the bee as a man and the flower as...
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