Symbolism, Tone and Mood: An Overview and Review

Symbolism, Tone and Mood: An Overview and Review

Symbolism, Tone and Mood: An Overview and Review


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<strong>Symbolism</strong>, <strong>Tone</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Mood</strong>:<br />

<strong>An</strong> <strong>Overview</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Review</strong>

What is a symbol?<br />

• A symbol is an ordinary object, event, person,<br />

animal, or color to which we have attached a special<br />

meaning <strong>and</strong> significance.<br />

• So, symbolism is simply the act of attaching inner<br />

meaning to outward things.

So what is Literary <strong>Symbolism</strong>?<br />

• When the author uses an object or reference to add deeper<br />

meaning to a story.<br />

• Can be subtle or obvious, used sparingly or heavy‐<br />

h<strong>and</strong>edly.<br />

• <strong>An</strong> author may repeatedly use the same object to convey<br />

deeper meaning or may use variations of the same object<br />

to create an overarching mood or feeling.<br />

• Often used to support a literary theme.<br />

• Writers insert symbols to allude to a feeling, mood, attitude<br />

or tone without directly stating the perspective or mood<br />

intended. <strong>Symbolism</strong> is supplemental to the story.<br />

• Often, writers use a character as a symbol.

So how does that work?<br />


…To Kill A Mockingbird<br />

WHAT is the obvious symbol?<br />

A mockingbird<br />

What does the mockingbird represent?<br />

Innocence<br />

How does this symbol support the theme?<br />

The most important theme of TKAM is the exploration of whether<br />

people are essentially good or essentially evil. We see Scout <strong>and</strong><br />

Jem’s transition from a perspective of childhood innocence, in<br />

which they assume that people are good because they have never<br />

seen evil, to a more adult perspective, in which they have<br />

confronted evil <strong>and</strong> must incorporate it into their underst<strong>and</strong>ing of<br />

the world. Jem <strong>and</strong> Scout are both “mockingbirds” destroyed by<br />

evil. Thus, to kill a mockingbird is to destroy innocence.

How can a person be symbolic?<br />

WHO is a symbol in TKAM?<br />

• Boo Radley<br />

– Boo, an intelligent child ruined by a cruel father, is<br />

one of the book’s most important mockingbirds; he<br />

is an important symbol of the good that exists<br />

within people. Despite the pain that Boo has<br />

suffered, the purity of his heart rules his interaction<br />

with the children. In saving Jem <strong>and</strong> Scout from Bob<br />

Ewell, Boo proves to be the ultimate symbol of<br />


Where Do We Get Symbols?<br />

• Invented symbols ‐ come about when writers<br />

make a character, object, or event st<strong>and</strong> for<br />

some human concern<br />

• Sometimes become<br />

well known <strong>and</strong> gain<br />

the status of public<br />


Why Create Symbols?<br />

You may ask why writers don’t just come right out<br />

<strong>and</strong> say what they mean.<br />

• Symbols allow writers to suggest layers <strong>and</strong> layers<br />

of meaning‐possibilities that a simple, literal<br />

statement could never convey.<br />

• A symbol is like a pebble cast<br />

into a pond: It sends out ever<br />

widening ripples of meaning

What do these images symbolize?<br />

These are common symbols in<br />

our society that we’ve come<br />

to recognize. However,<br />

symbolism in literature may<br />

not always be so obvious.

What could the<br />

following images<br />


<strong>Tone</strong> Words:<br />

Formal, informal,<br />

serious, humorous,<br />

amused, angry, playful,<br />

neutral, satirical,<br />

gloomy, conciliatory,<br />

sad, resigned, cheerful,<br />

ironic, clear, detailed,<br />

imploring, suspicious,<br />

witty…<br />

<strong>Mood</strong> Words:<br />

Fictional, imaginary,<br />

fanciful, idealistic,<br />

romantic, realistic,<br />

optimistic, pessimistic,<br />

gloomy, mournful,<br />

sorrowful…<br />

<strong>Tone</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Mood</strong>:<br />

<strong>Tone</strong> tells us how the<br />

author thinks about his<br />

or her subject. The<br />

author's style conveys<br />

the tone in literature.<br />

<strong>Tone</strong> is the author's<br />

attitude toward story<br />

<strong>and</strong> readers.<br />

<strong>Mood</strong> is the effect of<br />

the writer's words on<br />

the reader. <strong>Mood</strong> is<br />

how the writer’s words<br />

make us feel.

<strong>Tone</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Mood</strong><br />

• Identifying the tone or mood is often an<br />

important clue to help the reader discover<br />

literary themes.<br />

• Considering how a writer creates a certain<br />

tone or mood helps the reader appreciate the<br />

author’s style.

• Now let’s apply these literary devices by<br />

looking at “The Road Not Taken” by Robert<br />


The Road Not Taken<br />

by Robert Frost<br />

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,<br />

<strong>An</strong>d sorry I could not travel both<br />

<strong>An</strong>d be one traveler, long I stood<br />

<strong>An</strong>d looked down one as far as I could<br />

To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5<br />

Then took the other, as just as fair,<br />

<strong>An</strong>d having perhaps the better claim,<br />

Because it was grassy <strong>and</strong> wanted wear;<br />

Though as for that the passing there<br />

Had worn them really about the same, 10

…continued<br />

<strong>An</strong>d both that morning equally lay<br />

In leaves no step had trodden black.<br />

Oh, I kept the first for another day!<br />

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,<br />

I doubted if I should ever come back. 15<br />

I shall be telling this with a sigh<br />

Somewhere ages <strong>and</strong> ages hence:<br />

Two roads diverged in a wood, <strong>and</strong> I—<br />

I took the one less traveled by,<br />

<strong>An</strong>d that has made all the difference. 20

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