Posted on May 3, 2011


My students write the best material to keep me up at night wondering what exactly it is that I am supposed to do as a teacher.

The following are gems of the day from essays about symbolism in a major work of literature.  Please note that these were in-class assignments.  Actually, there is no excuse.

The Scarlet Letter

By embroidering the “A” so ornately, Hester owns her punishment.  She truly owns it.

Symbols, evidently, work very well for authors and readers.

Everyone sins, and we should not be publically shamed for one of our sins while other walk around looking at us in disgust while they’ve committed things just as bad and acting all high.

Her punishment is placed on her in order to show everyone that sins are not acceptable but it really just shows that she is human and it also affects that theme of identify because instead of leaving the town when she could, she stays.

The Great Gatsby

Even thought the story makes the audience envision a relationship between a man and a woman, the events of the novel really portray the decline of the American dream.

The 1920’s was a time when a new wave of behavior grew significantly directing the people of society in wrong directions.

A Doll’s House

Symbols are massages that must be analyzed to discover.

The Christmas tree is a symbol that is sad because it serves no purpose other than to decorate like Nora.

A Tale of Two Cities

The wine is a metaphor that is blood and is a practical symbol in reference to Madame Defarges and is a means of allusion in reference to the intoxicating power of wine.

Like all alcoholic beverages, too much wine makes people a little crazy and irrational, making them blood thirsty in actions.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Rivers aren’t generally thought of as being symbolic; they’re just bodies of water.

Just like real life, the river introduced Huck and Jim to the evils of criminals.

Crime and Punishment

The most obvious symbol in the novel is the cross which is used to symbolize Christianity.

Symbols throughout the novel set the tone of the novel to arouse the reader.

The Kite Runner

The world of literature is full of serious undertones.

The theme of this story is about redemption because Amir wants to redeem himself because he did not help Hassan and the novel is about his journey toward redeeming himself as the kite is a symbol to reveal the theme of redemption.

Most readers might read the novel and believe that the kite is the most important symbol in the novel, which is probably true, but the cleft lip is also very important because it almost represents everything that happens in the story.

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