How to Write a Symbolism Essay

You’ve come to the right place if you cannot grasp an abstract concept like symbolism. You will understand all principles of writing a symbolism essay if you continue reading.

Defining, Identifying, and Analyzing Symbols: How to Write a Symbolism Essay

Analyzing the literary devices used by writers is one of the many ways we get at a work’s meaning. Most Students have no issue grasping the general concept of symbolism during symbolism study. However, detecting and evaluating symbolism in a piece on your own can be difficult.

The American flag is one of the best accessible images to teach symbolism. On a navy blue background, it’s a rectangle piece of fabric with red and white stripes and white stars. Many symbols on the American flag are not visible at first glance.

On the other hand, the flag has a considerably greater symbolic value. It symbolizes freedom, patriotism, the thirteen original colonies, the 50 states, liberty, justice, and independence from the United Kingdom, among many other things.

Isn’t it simple? It’s the same for you as it is for all students! However, many are completely confused about applying and identifying symbolism in literature.

To help students understand symbolism, we have gone to many forums, blogs, university websites, and other places to figure out how to make the idea more obvious. It boils down to that, like any other task, you must be willing to put in the effort to understand symbols.

To be a skilled symbol analyst, you must first understand what a symbol is. So let’s identify symbolism.

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Defining Symbolism

In a nutshell, symbolism is a literary device that refers to words, colors, things, people, places, or ideas to represent something larger than itself.

A Symbol can be anything that represents an idea

Try to recall how F. Scott Fitzgerald mentions the color green in his novel “The Great Gatsby.” Green is commonly associated with greed and money. Green depicts the protagonist’s idea that to win the heart of the object of his affection; he must obtain and retain vast fortune.

Symbolism asks readers to connect repeating items, colors, words, and other elements to their intended meaning. Is green only a descriptive adjective that changes a noun? Is it possible that there’s more to it than that? If you can assign greater meaning to that recurrent aspect as a reader, you’ve most likely discovered symbolism.

Three Different Types of Symbolism in Literature

Although our definition of symbolism has not changed over time, the sorts of symbolism used by writers have. The three common types of symbolism are as follows:

1. Symbolism in Religion

Religious symbolism is probably the most well-known sort of symbolism, and it relates to objects or concepts that have sacred, spiritual, or holy meanings. In Christianity, the Crucifix is the wooden cross on which Jesus Christ died, representing God’s sacrifice for humanity’s spiritual salvation.

A Lotus is a beautiful flower in Buddhism, and the stages of the flower’s budding symbolically depict Buddha’s awakening and a Buddhist’s spiritual growth.

Buddha derives from the Sanskrit word Buddha, which means “one who has awakened.”

Throughout history, writers have utilized religious symbols to hint at the conflicts, situations, and other events that characters face in a story’s plot.

For example, the setting of William Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies,” a utopian island filled with temptation at every turn, religiously represents the Garden of Eden. As the boys on the island who cannot control their urges without social order, the Garden of Eden, is devoid of authority, leaving its inhabitants to their own devices.

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2. Symbolism in Romantic Literature

Objects associated with romantic expressions are referred to as Romantic symbolism. Many novels and poems have dealt with the subject of love. Those items, words, colors, and so on that so emblematically represent and signify love are Romantic symbols.

Literature presents all types of love in an enthralling manner. For example, the speaker in Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130” compares his mistress’s cheeks to the color of a rose and her aroma to the fragrance of a rose. The speaker compares his mistress to a red rose, and the reader understands that the rose represents his love for her, even though it isn’t explicitly mentioned. It creates romantic symbolism.

3. Emotional symbolism is a third type of symbolism

Instead of saying it out loud, good writers employ figurative language to imply the emotions and feelings that characters are experiencing. It is by doing so that literature becomes exciting and enjoyable.

Emotional symbols are used to symbolize specific feelings. For example, raising a clenched fist in the Black Lives Matter Movement symbolizes political solidarity. The fist may appear to be nothing more than a fist, yet it may have a far deeper meaning depending on the circumstances under which it is raised.

Symbolism’s Impact on Literature

Fictional stories are not written purposely for the pleasure of the reader. As your literature teachers have most likely told you, good fiction authors teach a moral lesson or recreate an important conflict from which you, the reader, are expected to recognize the significance.

Writers use literary methods like symbolism to generate levels of meaning that go beyond the obvious. Symbols are more effective at demonstrating and revealing ideas, lessons, morals, and significance than simply saying them.

Symbols Have the Power to Teach You Life Lessons and Show You What Is Best for You.

When you read “When Grizzlies Walked Upright,” for example, the Modoc Indian origin story, you’re supposed to learn the value of obeying your parents. When the writer says, “It’s vital to obey your parents,” you get a deeper meaning from the story’s symbolism than if he merely says, “It’s important to obey your parents.”

What to Include in a Symbolism Essay

So, what exactly is a symbolism essay? What is the best way to create a symbolism essay? Analyzing symbolism in the context of the texts you read is one of the most acceptable ways to help you engage with the concept.

Since cave art and hieroglyphics, symbolism has been a popular literary element among authors. The more confident you are with spotting symbols, the more you will understand the text and become better readers.

Horus’ Eye (also known as ‘Wadjet’) symbolizes strength, protection, and good health.

A symbolism essay’s body essentially examines and analyzes specific symbols given in the literature. When identifying the symbol(s), explain why the author used them.

As the essayist, you must consider why the writer felt it was vital to use specific symbols, what they wish to transmit or expose, and what you, the reader, were supposed to take away from the symbol(s) in question.

It’s analogous to when writers decide to include curse words in their work. What is the goal? What contribution does the curse word make to the text’s meaning? Would the text have a similar impact if the swear word had been removed?

Just as you could be perplexed by the author’s inclusion of swear words, which I discuss here, the author’s intent in selecting specific symbols to engage you further is significant.

For a better understanding, you can use critical thinking when reading.

Symbolism analysis is a process. Identifying a symbol in the literature is the first stage in this approach.

Consider whether an overriding theme stood out to you after reading a chapter. Is it repeated if so? Is there a deeper significance behind it?

Consider whether an object has other commonly recognized meanings if it stands out to you. If not, could you give the thing a logical and reasonable meaning? If that’s the case, you’ve correctly deciphered the text’s symbolism.

Shaelin of “Shaelin Writes” discusses how to deduce the symbolic meaning of noteworthy and recurrent items, colors, words, and so on in this fantastic review of symbolism.

It’s also crucial to consider the symbol’s effect or function. What message is the author trying to send? What is the writer attempting to show you rather than tell you?

“In the best literature, symbols are unexpected and unique to the character, yet absolutely rational and carefully chosen by the writer to conjure numerous layers of meaning,” said “Word Ink” bloggers Gannon Daniels and Vanessa Ziff Lasdon.

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Finally, combine your analysis into a well-organized paragraph where you identify the symbol in a topic sentence, explain the symbol’s meaning, and provide textual evidence of how the symbol is used in the passage’s context; provide these explanations in the sentences that follow the topic sentence. Finish your paragraph with a finishing sentence that refers back to the same paragraph’s topic sentence.

Use various sources to analyze the symbols, such as books, encyclopedias, and the internet.

Alternative approaches may be considered in some writing mediums. There are several formats to select from when writing a narrative literature review, as I outline here. On the other hand, the five-paragraph structure is ideal for a symbolic essay.

A symbolism essay should be formatted in the five-paragraph essay structure. In the first paragraph, introduce the text and your subject, then find and evaluate a distinct way the sign appears in each body paragraph before concluding by connecting your analysis.

Useful resources

Color meanings – the significance and power of colors

Animal Symbolism: What Do Animals Mean?

In literature, there are many examples of symbolism.

Religious symbols and their meanings


Finally, symbolism in literature is a literary device, or figurative language, that encourages the reader to deduce deeper meaning from objects, thoughts, words, etc.

Instead of telling readers anything directly, writers in literature employ symbols to show them.

A symbolism essay assists readers in recognizing and analyzing symbols to determine their intended meaning and function. This page provides further guidance in picking the best plagiarism checker, in addition to the essential resources supplied above on how to write a symbolism essay.

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