Figures of Speech Symbol

Figures of Speech Symbol

In literature, a symbol is a literary device that represents an idea, concept, or object beyond its literal meaning. Symbols are often used to convey complex themes, emotions, or messages more indirectly. They can be objects, characters, actions, or even words that carry deeper meanings and layers of significance.

Functions of Symbols:

  1. Conveying Abstract Concepts: Symbols represent abstract ideas or concepts beyond literal meaning. It adds layers of complexity to the story.
  2. Enhancing Theme: They contribute to the development and reinforcement of central themes. It provides a cohesive thread that ties the narrative together.
  3. Characterization: Symbols can be used to characterize individuals. This offers insights into their personalities, motivations, or internal conflicts.
  4. Cultural Significance: Symbols often carry cultural or societal significance. It connects the narrative to broader contexts and allows for a nuanced exploration of societal issues.
  5. Facilitating Interpretation: Symbols encourage readers to engage actively. It promotes multiple interpretations and fosters a deeper understanding of the text’s symbolic language.

Read More: Literary Term Comedy


ইউটিউবে ভিডিও লেকচার দেখুনঃ

1. “All the world’s a stage, 

And all the men and women merely players; 

they have their exits and their entrances; 

And one man in his time plays many parts,” [As You Like It, Shakespeare]

Ans: The lines are symbolic in the sense that men and women, in the course of their life perform different roles. “A stage” here symbolizes the world, and “players” stand for human beings. The symbolism here gives universality to the characters and the theme of the piece of literature.

2. “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it; I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath a source of little visible delight, but necessary.” [Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte]

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Ans: The “foliage of leaves” for Linton symbolizes his fertile and civilized nature. On the contrary, Heathcliff is likened to an “eternal rock” which symbolizes his crude and unbendable nature. The function is to evoke interest in readers.

Read More: Literary Term Epic

Previous Years Questions and Solutions

NTRCA Exam-2005, 2012, 2014 

1. And miles to go before I sleep.

Ans. This is an example of a symbol. The line bears two meanings. The literal meaning of the line is that: The poet has a long way to go before he gets to bed to night. But the symbolic meaning of the line is that the poet has to strive more before he dies. Here, “miles to go” symbolizes the unending journey of life, and “sleep” stands for death. Thus, the function of this symbol is to add double meaning.

NTRCA Exam- 2006

1. Between the woods, and frozen lake 

The darkest evening of the year.

Ans. This is an example of a symbol. The literal meaning of the lines is that it is the darkest evening of the year between the woods and the frozen lake. But symbolically, the “woods” here stand for the death-wish and “frozen lake” for death and “the darkest evening of the year” may symbolize the most mysterious moment of life. Thus, the function of this symbol is to add double meaning.

NTRCA Exam-2015

1. If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? 

Ans. This is an example of a symbol. We know that winter has to, at last, yield to spring. Winter is considered the time of death, and spring is regarded as the time of rebirth and renewal. This “winter” symbolizes all the corruption, tyranny, superstition, social customs and social institutions. On the other hand, “spring” stands for new life, free from all obstacles. Winter signifies death, while spring brings us consciousness of the regeneration of new life. The poet believes that suffering will come to an end and joy and happiness will prevail as winter is followed by spring. Thus, the function of this symbol is to add double meaning.

Read More: Figures of Speech Anti-Climax

NTRCA Exam-2017

2. On his soul, there fell eternal night. (“Atalanta’s Race”, William Morris)

Ans. This is an example of a symbol. Atalanta, a heroine in Greek mythology, decides to marry on the condition that her husband-to-be should beat her in a foot race. All her suitors lose and are put to death. Thus, eternal night’ is the symbol of death. The function of this symbol is to add double levels of meanings.

Riya Akter
Riya Akter
Hey, This is Riya Akter Setu, B.A (Hons) & M.A in English from National University.


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