Symbolism means the systematic use ofsymbols or pictorical conventions to express anallegorical meaning. The term is derived from the word symbol which derives from the Latin symbolum, a symbol of faith.
Movement The symbolist movement emerged in France in the second half of the nineteenth century. It was based on ideas shared between both artist an literary figures. Those ideas shared where a rejection of Realism. Unlike their preceding generation they saw arts as being subjective, ambiguous and mysterious and instead of looking outward into the world for their subject matter, it came from their emotions, dreams and spiritual psyche.
Movement Symbolists believed that art should represent absolute truth which could only be described indirectly. Thus, They wrote in a very metaphorical and suggestive manner, endowing particular images or objects with symbolic meaning. Jean Moréas published Symbolist Manifesto in the newspaper Le Figaro on 18th September 1886.
MovementAfter the beginning of the 20th century, symbolism had a major effect on Russian poetry even as it become less popular in France.Russian symbolism steeped in the second largest christian denomination in the world the Easter Orthodoxy and the religiuos doctrines of Vladimir Solouyov, a Russian philosopher.
Precursors Neoclassicism Romanticism Realism SYMBOLISM 1740-1830 1798-1832 1830-1870 1880-1900 Neo-classicism was a It was a revolt against The movement discarded child of the Age of aristocratic social and the previous traditional Reason (the political norms of the Age styles and formulas of Enlightenment). They of Enlightenment and a Neoclassicism and believed that strong reaction against the Romanticism. The Realist drawing was rational, scientific rationalization artist portrays subjects in therefore morally better. of nature. It was a general the most straightforward They believed that art exaltation of emotion over manner possible without should be cerebral, not reason and of the senses idealizing them, and sensual. over intellect. without following previous art theories.
Origins Symbolist movement has its roots in Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire. The esthetic was developed during the 1860s an 70s and after the manifesto in the 1880s, the symbolist movement attracted a generation of writers.
Production of Symbolism Symbolism was often produced trough allegory¹. Allegory is the simpliest way of fleshing out a theme, but it is also the least emotionally satisfying because it makes things a little to easy on the reader. To take allegory to the next higher level we use symbolism. At this level, there is still a form of correspondence, and yet it is not so one-to-one, and certainly not so obvious.*Allegory: a story, play, picture, etc. in which each character or event is a symbol representing an idea or quality such as truth,evil, death, etc.
Examples• In the novel Animal Farm, the entire story is a symbol for the evils of communism, with the main animal characters representing key figures in the Russian revolution. The novel can be read entirely as a children’s story, but, when you come to realize what the various elements and characters in the story symbolize, the novel takes a whole new meaning. That is why this particular work has become such a classic. This kind of story is called Allegory.
Examples• In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet is fascinated with actors and acting. His life has become unreal; he is being haunted by the ghost of his father, his father turns out to have been murder by his uncle, his mother has married his father’s murder. The motif of the actors is a symbol for the unreality of Hamlet’s life.
Examples• In Hawthorne’s The Scarlet letter, the “A” that Hester Prynne was forced to wear represented not only that she was an adulteress, but also the first letter of the name of her illegitimate child’s father, the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale.
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