April 15, 2005

Symbolism- Sometimes You See It, Sometimes You Don't

I really enjoy Foster's book. He brings a new spin to literary analysis and interpretations. Plus he addresses a range of subjects, from the seasons to sex, sickness to symbolism.

I have never been good at picking out the symbolism in anything. It could be blatently obvious and actually marked with the word "symbolism" and I still wouldn't get it. I always thought that I just wasn't reading into the text or wasn't smart enough to make connections. Or if I did find something I remotely thought would be a symbol, it was wrong (according to the powers that be). Yet Foster has reassured my troubled mind that I am not an English failure. There is no "right" or "wrong" symbolism. It can be anything one wants. I just might get the hang of this after all.

Everything can technically be a symbol for something else in literature. The house can stand for something completely more or be just a place to sleep. Who knows! So should one read everything as if it is a symbol, dissecting every word of the text for the deep inner meaning. No, probably not. You'll want to kill yourself. And the author certainly didn't intend for his or her text to be picked apart (unless it was Freud. Him you can dissect, but then again, he isn't exactly "literary".) The easiest way to find a symbol is to just use common sense. If something in a story seems prominent or important, there's a good chance it could represent something else. A flower can be just a flower and nothing more, unless it is mentioned several times. Then the flower becomes a symbol for live, death, fertility, and God knows what else.

There is no "right" or "wrong" symbolism in a story- it is what the reader interprets it as. I'd love to tell this to a certain number of English teachers...

Posted by VanessaKolberg at April 15, 2005 10:34 AM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?