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What is symbolism in literature?

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Quick Answer

In literature, symbolism refers to using specific symbols to help represent something else, whether it is an idea or quality. Through this literary element, the different symbols allow readers to better understand and interpret a piece of work.

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Full Answer

There are various forms of symbolism, although one of the most common is an object that represents another object, offering that object a vastly different meaning than the original, which is often times more meaningful and significant. Many authors rely on symbolism to set a specific mood or emotion within the piece of literature. An example of symbolism is black used to represent evil, such as in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter." Another example is the color green, which often represents hope and prosperity.

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Related Questions

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    How is symbolism employed in "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst?

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    In "The Scarlet Ibis," the ibis itself and the color red are the main symbols within the short story. The ibis represents the narrator's special needs brother, and the color red symbolizes death.

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  • Q:

    What are some examples of motifs in literature?

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    A motif in literature is a recurring symbol, image or idea that is significant to the overall theme of the work. Some examples of motifs in literature are green lights in "The Great Gatsby," miscommunication in "Romeo and Juliet" and divine intervention in "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey."

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    What is the purpose of color symbolism in "The Great Gatsby"?

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    The purpose of color symbolism in "The Great Gatsby" is to convey the different emotions of F. Scott Fitzgerald's characters and to depict the societal mindset of the time. While the book did not meet with success during the author's time, it has since gone on to be considered one of the greatest literary works in history.

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    What is the symbolism of roses in "American Beauty"?

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    In the movie "American Beauty," roses symbolize the decay beneath the facade of typical American suburban life, as portrayed by the film's main characters. The roses have multiple meanings and also represent the inexplicable beauty of life and its fleeting quality. Roses often appear in the sexual fantasies of Lester Burnham, the story's main character, and represent not only lust, but his desire for love and a sense of purpose.

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