typical examples include the scales to symbolize justice; a dove for
peace, the rose, purity; the stars and stripes, America; the lion,
strength and courage, and so on.
get a little harder, though, when a poet creates a new symbol. You then
have to study the poem carefully and ask yourself which word has a central
place in the poem or which word transforms other elements in the poem. The
albatross in Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a case in point.
The albatross is a recurring character, and it symbolizes the suffering
that the mariner is going through.
symbols can be straightforward, but more often it is not easy to say
exactly what they symbolize. In Blake's "The Tyger," for
instance, the tiger could be a symbol of great energy and creativity, but
it could also mean many other things. The same applies to Coleridge's
albatross. You can guess at the meaning but can never be quite sure.
Always remember when discussing symbols and symbolism in poetry that they
are rich and complex and have many layers of meaning. Rather than using
the words "stands for" or "points to" when you discuss
them, try to use words like "suggests" or "expresses"
In small groups design, share and complete your own fun activities;
activities that will help you understand, remember, revise, find and
discuss symbols in poetry and literature.
In small groups design, share and complete your own fun activities; activities that will help you understand, remember, revise, find and discuss symbols in poetry and literature.