What Is the Definition of Symbolism?

Learn about the multifaceted nature of symbolism, from objects to characters, and how they convey deeper meanings and themes in various forms of art and literature.

The Use of Objects to Represent Ideas or Qualities

Symbolism is the use of objects or images to represent deeper meanings or concepts. For example, the color red may symbolize passion or love, while a dove may symbolize peace.

A Reference to a Well-Known Thing, Person, or Event

Symbols often reference well-known entities to convey meaning. For instance, a white flag is a common symbol for surrender or truce, drawn from historical events of waving a white cloth to signal peace.

The Use of Vivid Language That Appeals to the Senses

Symbols in literature or art can be conveyed through vivid language that appeals to the senses, evoking emotion or understanding through sensory experience. Descriptions of a sunset may symbolize the end of a chapter or the passing of time.

A Text in Which the Plot and Characters Represent Ideas

In some cases, an entire text may be symbolic, where the plot and characters represent broader ideas or themes. For example, George Orwell’s novel 1984 uses a dystopian society to symbolize the dangers of totalitarianism.

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