What Is Symbolism in Literature?

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.

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.