1. Defining Symbolism
The word “symbol” derives from the Greek word “ Symbolon” which means ‘mark’, ‘emblem’, ‘ token’ or sign. It is an object animate or inanimate, which represents or stands for something else. In the broadest sense symbol is anything which signifies something; in this sense all words are symbols. Some symbols are “conventional” or “public” such as the cross for Christianity where as some symbols are quite personal which can be understood in relation to the text. Going by the definition that “A symbol is something that stands for, represent or denotes something else” we fathom different meanings. Scales, for example, symbolize justice; the orb and scepter, monarchy and rule; a dove, peace; a goat, lust; the lion, strength and courage; the bulldog, tenacity; the rose, beauty; the lily; purity; the Stars and Stripes, America and its States; the swastika(or crooked Cross) Nazi Germany and Fascism.
Action and gestures are also symbolic. The clenched fist symbolizes aggression. Beating of the breast signifies remorse. Arms raised denote surrender. Hands clasped and raised suggest suppliance. Symbols do shift their meanings depending on the context they are used. “A chain”, for example may stand for “union” as well as “imprisonment”. Thus, symbolic meaning of an object or an action is understood by when, where and how it is used.
A symbol has both a literal meaning (what it really is) and a symbolic meaning (what it represents). In other words, a symbol must be something you can hold in your hand or draw a picture of, while the idea it symbolizes must be something you cannot hold in your hand or draw a picture of; it is a kind of figures of speech used for increasing the beauty of the text and has figurative meaning besides its literal meaning. Signs and symbols provide mental exercise in understanding and studying the meaning and messages that lies behind the signs and their effects to...