Symbols are used to draw attention towards specific idea. This article enables the readers to read about symbolism figure of speech, symbolism in literature and symbols for love.

Symbolism Examples in Poetry

Symbols are used to draw attention towards specific idea. This article enables the readers to read about symbolism examples in poetry.

What is Symbol?

The word symbol has been derived from the Greek word ‘symballein’.

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary:
“A Person, an object, an event, etc. that represents a more general quality or situation”

For example: ‘White’ is considered a symbol of purity in ‘Western culture’. Similarly, ‘black’ is taken as the symbol of darkness or guilt.

Types of Symbols

There are two types of symbols.

i. Conventional Symbols
ii. Private Symbols

Conventional Symbols:

These are the symbols which represent the features of some object, person or thing. Such as,
Dove : Peace
Goat : Lust
Rose : Beauty
Stars and stripes : America and its states
The Cross : Christianity
Arms raised : surrender
Lion : Courage
Rain : Blessing
Serpent : evil
Red colour : Danger

Private Symbols:

Usually, the private symbols are used by the writers in their plays and poets in their poetry. In literature, different writers and poets used symbols on different occasions. Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth are full of symbolic events. Similarly, W.B. Yeats, Dante, and P.B. Shelly have abundantly used symbols in their poetic work.

Let’s discuss symbolism figure of speech.

Symbolism Figure of Speech

‘Symbolism figure of speech’ is used to represent ideas, especially in art and literature . It can also be seen as the leading term of modernism. It developed new and often intangible means to express spiritual fact and the idea that behind the physical world lay a psychic reality.

After discussing symbolism figure of speech, now we can divert towards its examples in literature.

Symbolism Examples in Poetry:

As you Like it by William Shakespeare

“All the world’s a stage
And all men and women merely players”

Here the ‘the world’ has been symbolized as a stage and ‘all men and women are presented as the players (actors) executing their respective roles. The two lines are purely symbolized and have emerged a deep meaning in them.

A Rainbow by William Wordsworth

“My heart leaps up when I behold
A beautiful rainbow in the sky.”

In the above lines, ‘rainbow’ has been symbolized as the source of hope for the poet and he considers that he becomes happy when he sees the rainbow in the sky. Further, a rainbow can be considered a source of joy and happiness because one get feels pleasure to see it.

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice,
From what I’ve tasted of desire,
I hold with those who favor fire,
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate,
To say that for destruction ice is also great,
And would suffice

In this poem, the poet has used figurative language and has compared the fire with ice. ‘Fire’ is the symbol of passion and love while the ‘ice’ is a symbol of hatred.

‘Fire’ and ‘ice’ are in juxtaposition, however, they could have the power to destruct the world. The writer agrees with both the two thinking who either favor fire or ice

Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad

The river was there fascinating deadly like a snake.
Fog not only obscures but distorts. It gives one just enough
information to begin making decisions but no way to judge the
accuracy of that information, which often ends up being wrong.

A horrible story shows the terrible condition of Colonial Africa. The novel shows the writer’s own experience as captain of the West African river steamer.

In the first line, the river has been symbolized as a deadly snake, which shows the sight of darkness. Perhaps, it is the darkness of people ruling the African people at that time.

Again, the Fog has been symbolized which is also associated with the darkness. The last line is associated with the character of the novel “Mr. Kurt’z” which shows the dark side of his character.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies is a symbolic novel, and many of its characters signify important ideas and themes.

Ralph: represents order, leadership, and civilization.
Piggy: is representing the scientific and intellectual aspects of civilization.
Jack: represents unbridled savagery and the desire for power.
Simon: represents natural human goodness.
Roger: represents brutality and bloodlust at their most extreme.
Boys’ society resembles a political state, while the older boys represent the ruling classes and political leaders.

The relationships that develop between the older boys and the younger ones emphasize the older boys’ connection to either the civilized or the savage instinct:

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Antiago, the Old Man

In terms of stamina and endurance, the old man is religiously compared to Christ. He is a teacher in the same way as Christ teaches Manolin to fish, and he is humble. With the manner he fights the marlin, it is repeatedly proved that the old man is a figure of Christ. He also survived the shark attacks later on.

The Marlin

Santiago’s opponent, the Marlin, is a worthy opponent. It is a mark of pride and dignity. The Marlin, in contrast to the sharks, is dishonorable competitors who are unworthy of Santiago’s efforts. The Marlin is a superb opponent, magnificent and brilliant. In a world where “everything kills everything else in some way,” Santiago considers himself extremely fortunate to come across an animal that brings out the best in him. The Marlin highlights his bravery, talent, tenacity, love, and admiration.


Manolin symbolizes purity, love, compassion and the circle of life. He dearly loves Santiago and cares for him. There is a vast age difference between Manoling and the Old man. It symbolizes their skills in fishing. One day, Manolin will be able to touch that point and carry Santiago’s legacy. Here Manolin is the symbol of hope.

The Sea

The sea is a metaphor for life and the hardships that everyone must face. Man is the most deserving in isolation, according to Hemingway, because he has to labor and survive on his own. The sea is a symbol of life and Santiago’s isolation in the world in the novel. As we can see, there is no assistance or laws in the sea. Santiago faces his greatest struggle alone and overcomes it. In this way, the novel is an example of Naturalism in Literature.

The lions

The lions symbolize the old man’s youth in the story. They are a symbol of vibrancy and life. The prospect of endless life, independence, and youth is represented by Santiago’s dream of lions towards the end of the tale. The writer chose lions to portray Santiago’s youth because of their strength and pride. Lions served as a sign of his power and pride when he was younger. Lions are powerful creatures and hunters, just like Santiago when he chases marlin.


The sharks in “The Old Man and the Sea” represent life’s challenges and the struggle to overcome them. Sharks are the marlin’s polar opposite. Sharks, according to Santiago, are filthy predators who are unworthy of admiration or glory. They resemble negative energies that serve no other purpose in life.

The Mast

The Mast is a symbol that portrays Jesus’ cross. Santiago’s skiff is equipped with a mast. . He suffers horrific injuries to the palms of his hands and his back for three days, just as Jesus suffered.


DiMaggio represents the value of perseverance in the face of adversity. He is a symbol of motivation for Santiago to stay on his feet. Santiago’s talent, pride, and ethics are exemplified by DiMaggio. He is also a source of hope for the elderly man. Santiago wishes for Manolin to grow up to be strong and young as the great DiMaggio. He does not want him to be a poor fisherman like him.

The Harpoon

Santiago loses his Harpoon while fighting sharks. It is a metaphor for those who have lost faith and are questioning everything in their lives. When life throws those challenges, they lose hope, just like Santiago, who is defenseless without his harpoon. Without religion, people are just like that.

Symbolism Wizard of OZ

The Wizard of Oz is a classic American film. It was released in 1939 and has been a favorite ever since. Many people are familiar with the story, but few know the symbolism behind it.

The first thing one notices when watching this film is the color scheme. The entire movie is done in shades of gray, black and white. This is symbolic of the overall tone of the story. Dorothy’s journey begins in black and white Kansas and ends in Technicolor Oz. In between she travels through a gray landscape full of dangers, witches and villains before finally reaching her destination – a land where dreams come true.

Symbolism for Love:

Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas, such as love. The symbols used in symbolism for love vary from culture to culture and from person to person. What one culture considers an appropriate symbol for love may be considered inappropriate by another culture.

Love is one of the most powerful forces in the world. It can bring about great joy and happiness, as well as inspire people to do great things. Love is a universal concept, but what does it actually mean?

The word love has many meanings and can be understood in different ways by different people. There are many different forms of love including romantic love, platonic love, spiritual love and unconditional love.

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