Predominate Symbols and Their Meanings Defined Symbolism “is the practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character. A symbol is an object, action, or idea that represents something other than itself, often of a more abstract nature. ” (Wikipedia) Authors use symbolism to give their stories a deeper meaning. Symbols make you look beyond the obvious and see the deeper meaning. ” Symbols have emotional and intellectual power beyond their literal importance, and writers often use them to compact large ideas into simple words or phrases. (SPC Blackboard) Authors Shirley Jackson (The Lottery), Susan Glaspell (A Jury of Her Peers), and Katherine Ann Porte (The Jilting of Granny Weatherall) all effectively use symbolism is their stories to convey a deeper meaning, the symbolism in their stories help connect you on a different level. In Jackson’s The Lottery, there are many instances where symbolism is used to represent something else. The first symbol which is probably the most obvious is the title of the story.
When you think of the word lottery you think of a prize of some sort, “In this story the lottery serves as an ironic symbol--something which begins in a harmless and sociable way but ends in tragedy. ” (Enotes) Another symbolic reference in this story is the black box that is used to draw from. The box is dilapidated and in need of some major repair, yet it is still used year after year. ‘They base their attachment on nothing more than a story that claims that this black box was made from pieces of another, older black box. (SparkNotes) The black box symbolizes tradition; the people of the town are attached to the box just because it has been around so long they don’t know anything else. There is no reason the villagers should be so attached to the box, just as there is no reason they should continue to hold the Lottery but they do because of tradition. (SparkNotes) The third and most disturbing symbol from The Lottery is the actual stoning. “Stoning is one of the oldest and most common forms of execution, but it is also one of the most symbolic. (Bright Hub Education) It is symbolic because in reference to the Bible stoning was the way to execute innocent people. It was also important the “winner” of the lottery be stoned so that there was not just one executioner. “This means that no single person has passed judgment or has to carry the guilt for taking a life alone”, the lottery was an institution of the society and not the individual. (Bright Hub Education) Jackson uses symbolism in this morbid story to reference the Bible and make you read between the lines, just like Glaspell does in A Jury of Her Peers.
In A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell there is an abundance of symbolism. Basically every small detail in this story is symbolic of something else. The most significant symbols in this story are the bird and the birdcage. Mrs. Hale describes Minnie, before her marriage, as ”real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and fluttery” (Learner) which can also describe a bird. The bird in its cage represents Minnie trapped in the relationship with John. She is also trapped because there is no lifeline or communication with the outside world, she is having the life drained from her.
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John figuratively strangles the life out of Minnie like he literally strangles the bird. When he kills the bird, he kills the last bit of Minnie’s spirit. Minnie “didn't know what she was about” (Learner) anymore. Another symbolic reference is way Minnie killed her husband, Minnie strangled the life out of John like he strangled the life out of her bird. (Literature Essays) The setting in this story is also symbolic because like Minnie it was very isolated and “It had always been a lonesome-looking place. (Learner) Minnie reached a breaking point and took matters into her own hands. During this time period there was no divorce or separation, so the woman had either to suffer through it, die, or kill her husband. Her house is also very symbolic of her life, her kitchen was described as “being in disorder with unwashed pans under the sink, a dishtowel left on table, a loaf of bread outside the breadbox, and other disarray. ” (Learner) Just like her kitchen, Minnie’s life was in complete disarray because of the abuse she endured.
Like Glaspell, Katherine Ann Porte author of The Jilting of Granny Weatherall, uses symbolism to relate everyday events and objects to traumatic life events. The title itself is symbolic; to “Weather” means that someone has gone through a lot and experienced a lot of hardships during their life. Granny had “weathered” a lot during her life but had forced herself to rise above these situations. Even though she is a weak and dying she wants everyone to think she is fine and doesn’t need anyone’s help. Some f the symbolism that takes place in The Jilting of Granny Weatherall has to do with Granny’s denial. Granny Weatherall is in denial about most of the aspects of her life. She refuses to admit that she is dying, refuses to let anyone think she had her heart broken by the man who left her at the altar. Before she dies she wants to make sure everyone knows she lived a good life and did everything anyone else would do, married a good man, had kids, and lived a good life, even though her heart still pangs because she was jilted. The color blue is also symbolic throughout the story.
There are many references to the color throughout the story and as Granny comes closer to dying the color slowly starts to fade. “At last, blue becomes the color of the light in Granny’s own mind, the light she snuffs out herself. ‘She stretched herself with a deep breath and blew out the light. ’ (EBookBrowse) It comes to symbolize the final stage of Granny’s life, when she is easing into death. ” (SparkNotes) These symbols tug at your emotions and make you feel the pain Granny Weatherall has endured throughout her life. By using symbolism, these authors add layers to their stories.
These layers make the stories more effective on an emotional level. They force you to read between the lines and force you to see the hidden importance in even the smallest of details. Works Cited Bright Hub Education. n. d. 27 October 2012. . EBookBrowse. n. d. 29 October 2012. . Enotes. n. d. 28 October 2012. . Learner. n. d. 28 October 2012. . Literature Essays. n. d. 28 October 2012. . SparkNotes. n. d. 28 October 2012. . SparkNotes. n. d. 29 October 2012. . SPC Blackboard. n. d. 27 October 2012. . Wikipedia. n. d. 26 October 2012. .
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