As a method of implication widely adopted in literature works, symbolism represents various ideas with indirect suggestions such as symbolic images and objects. Authors convey individual emotional experience through the subtle, suggestive use of highly metaphorical language. In addition, it is often used in the propoganda of religions and politics. It also refers to an artistic and poetic movement..But I'd like to mainly talk about its history and symbolism in literature.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, symbolism means “the use of symbols in art, literature, films, etc. to represent ideas, especially a type of art and literature which began in the late nineteenth century and which tries to express ideas or states of mind rather than represent reality, using the power of words and images. In Oxford English Dictionary, it also mentions that symbolism is “an artistic and poetic movement or style using symbolic images and indirect suggestion to express mystical ideas, emotions, and states of mind. ”From the two defintions, we can see that symbolism contains a wide variety of meaning.


Symbolism is an art and poetic movement of French and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts in late nineteenth-century. There’re several writers made a great contribution in the development of symbolism. The works of Edgar Allan Poe played an significant role for his expansion of the souce of images. The aesthetic was developed by Stephane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine during the 1860s and '70s. In the 1880s, the aesthetic was highly developed by a large number of writers for which a large generation of writers were attracted by symbolism.One of the important figures is Jean Moréas, a famous french critic coined the label "Symbolist" in order to distinguish the Symbolists from the related Decadent movement in literature and art. Symbolism is opposite from realism.

Symbolism in Literature
In general, symbolism is the one of frequent used writing skills which can be easily found in many masterpieces, especially those written in late 19th century and early 20th century. This article takes The Lord of the flies as an example to analyze the usage of symbolism. This novel tells us a story of a group of boys’ adventure on an isolated island. Let's have a look at some examples.
Piggy’s Glasses Piggy is a major character in this novel, who is the most intelligent, rational boy in the group. His glasses represent the power of science and wisdom of human. This symbolic significance is clear from the start of the novel, when the boys use the lenses from Piggy’s glasses to focus the sunlight and make a fire.
The Beast
The imaginary beast that frightens all the boys stands for the primal instinct of evil and savagery that exists within all human beings. In the reality, there is no beast. When the boys act savagely, the beast seems to become real.
The Lord of the Flies
This complicated symbol—a sow’s head with lots of flies is the most important one in this novel. the Lord of the Flies becomes both a physical manifestation of the beast, a symbol of the power of evil, and a kind of Satan figure who evokes the beast within each human being.
From these examples, we can see that symbolism uses some realistic and concrete objects to convey elusive illusion. What the writer wants the reader to know is the meaning that lies within the object. So symbolism is like a bridge which associates the real world and individual's subjective inward world.The use of symbolism can indicates the beauty of rational world and express the writers ideas and emotions more successfully.Conclusion
Symbolism is a method by which authors use in order to illustrate the images or conceptions in a more vivid and indirect way.
Just as Moréas said that symbolism was hostile to "plain meanings, declamations, false sentimentality and matter-of-fact description". It renders the works implications that the authors expect their audience to work out either from the context in their books or the culture in genreral.


[1] Chadwick, Charles. Symbolism. London: Methuen, 1971.Print
[2] “Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

[3] “Symbolism”. The Oxford English Dictionary.2nd ed.1989.


[4]“Symbolism”. The Cambridge Dictionary Online.

< http://dictionary.cambridge.org>

[5] Wu Hua-Lan. The Symbolism of the Characters in Lord of the Flies. Journal of Qiongzhou University (June. 2010) Vol. 17. No. 13.
[6] York Notes: Lord of the flies. Beijing: World Pub. Corps., 1989. Print

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