Universidad Central de VenezuelaFacultad de Humanidades y EducaciónEscuela de Idiomas Modernos Members: Medina, Scarleth Suárez, Mariel
Images suggesting further meanings and associations in ways that gobeyond the fairly simple identifications of metaphor and simile are oftencalled symbols. A symbol is something that represents something else, either byassociation or by resemblance. It can be a material object or a writtensymbols by which we communicate. Every word is a symbol because itrepresents a sound as well as physical object. In writing, symbolism is the used of a word, a phrase, or a description,which represents a deeper meaning than the words themselves. This kind ofextension of meaning can transform the written word into a very powerfulinstrument.
In literature, symbolism is used to provide meaning to the writing beyondwhat is actually being described. The plot and action that take place in a storycan be thought of as one level, while the symbolism of certain things in thewriting act on another level to enhance the story. There are several ways to recognize symbolism in literature. One is thefrequency an object or character in mentioned in a piece of literature. If it ismentioned often, it is probably important . Another way to find a symbol is tolook at how much detail is used in describing an object. These two methodsgive clues that the writer wants you to infer something about a particularobject.
A river in a scene could represent the flow of life, from birth to death.Flowers in a scene couldsymbolize youth or beauty.
A transition from day to night, or spring to winter, could symbolize amove from goodness to evil, or hope to despair.
Not everything in a story is necessarily symbolic.A garden landscape is justa garden… until it iscontrasted with a bustlingcity, at which point thegarden could symbolizetranquility, peace, orescape.
Symbolism’s History Symbolism initially developed as a Frenchliterature movement in the 1880s gaining popularcredence with the publication in 1886 of JeanMoréas’ manifesto in Le Figaro. Reacting against therationalism and materialism that had come todominate Western European culture, Moréasproclaimed the validity of pure subjectivity and theexpression of an idea over a realistic description ofthe natural world. This philosophy, which wouldincorporate the poet Stéphane Mallarmés Stéphane Mallarméconviction that reality was best expressed through (1842-1898)poetry because it paralleled nature rather thanreplicating it, became a central tenet of themovement. In Mallarmés words, "To name anobject is to suppress three-quarters of theenjoyment to be found in the poem... suggestion,that is the dream."
Though it began as a literary concept, Symbolism was soon identifiedwith the artwork of a younger generation of painters who were similarlyrejecting the conventions of Naturalism. Symbolist painters believed thatart should reflect an emotion or idea rather than represent the naturalworld in the objective, quasi-scientific manner embodied by Realism andImpressionism. Returning to the personal expressivity advocated by theRomantics earlier in the nineteenth century, they felt that the symbolicvalue or meaning of a work of art stemmed from the recreation ofemotional experiences in the viewer through color, line, and composition.In painting, Symbolism represents a synthesis of form and feeling, ofreality and the artists inner subjectivity
Wanting to imbue their works with spiritual value,the progenitors of Symbolism produced imaginarydream worlds populated with mysterious figures frombiblical stories and Greek mythology as well asfantastical, often monstrous, creatures. Theirsuggestive imagery established what would becomethe most pervasive themes in Symbolist art: love, fear,anguish, death, sexual awakening, and unrequiteddesire. Woman became the favored symbol for theexpression of these universal emotions, appearingalternately as wistful virgins and menacing femmes Gustave Moreaufatales. In this latter category, Gustave Moreau (1826-1898)popularized the motifs of Salome brandishing the headof John the Baptist and the man-eating sphinx throughpaintings such as Oedipus and the Sphinx inthe Salons of the mid-1860s and 1870s. These twomythical female types—the virgin and the femmefatale—would become staples of Symbolist imagery,appearing frequently in both visual and literarysources from the 1880s through the first decade of thetwentieth century.