Compiled By: Dr. Louis
A symbol is the use of a concrete object to represent an abstract idea. The word symbol is
derived from the Greek verb “symballein” which means “to put together and the related noun
“symbolon” which means “mark”, “taken” or “sign”.
The term, symbol, when used in literature is often a figure of speech in which a person,
object, or situation represent something in addition to its literal meaning. Conventional or traditional
literary symbols work in much the same way, and because they have a previously agreed upon
meaning, they can be used to suggest ideas more universal than the physical aspect itself.
A symbol may appear in a work of literature in a number of different ways to suggest a
number of different things. Most commonly, a symbol will present itself in the form of 1) a word, 2)
a figure of speech, 3) an event, 4) the total action, or 5) a character.
Some conventional symbols are as follows:
A.Red : immoral; the color of the life principle, blood, passion, emotion, danger, or daring;
often associated with fire
B.Black: seen as a cold and negative aspect suggesting passivity, death, ignorance, or evil;
black hens are used in witchcraft as are black cats
C.White: innocence, life, light, purity, or enlightenment
D.Green : inexperience, hope; new life, immaturity; a combination of blue and yellow, it
mediates between heat and cold and high and low; it is a comforting, refreshing human
color; it is the color of plant life
E.Yellow : rotting, heat, decay, violence, decrepitude, old age, and the approach of death
F.Blue : cool, calm, peaceful; an insubstantial color in the real world except as translucency,
the void of heavens
G.Pink : innocence, femininity
H.Purple : royalty, bruising or pain
I.Brown : a color somewhere between russet and black; it is the color of earth and ploughed
land and soil, it represents humility and poverty
J.Orange : symbolizes the point of balance between the spirit and the...