Bedford/St. Martin's virtuaLit Interactive Fiction Tutorial Notebook VIEW SEND
Fiction in Depth Approaches and Contexts
Select a StoryElements of FictionCultural ContextsCritical Approaches
Point of View
Style, Tone, and Language
Symbolism, Allegory, and Image


William Faulkner spoke of the “eternal verities,” lasting principles found consistently in human experience, such as love, hope, hate, fear, and compassion. Through the ages, these fundamental aspects of humanity have drawn the attention of writers and other artists. Such principles are often rendered symbolically because they are important yet abstract. Hope cannot be touched or quantified, but a toy windmill symbolizing hope can be experienced tangibly. Symbolism offers a way for writers to capture these important intangibles that inform and shape our lives.

From the drop-down menu, select one of the abstract terms. Then think of at least three symbols that a writer might use to capture the principle in a story. Write the symbols in the box.

Symbols often carry multiple meanings in a story. For example, a simple lamp, if worked into the story’s setting and plot appropriately, might signify knowledge, personal warmth, and hope all at once. The lamp might also function literally as a lamp—perhaps as something bought at a yard sale. This multiple layering of meaning is what gives many symbols their artistic power.

Select one item from the drop-down menu and indicate at least three different meanings or functions that it might carry in a story.

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