A summary of the symbolism in "The Old Man and The Sea" by Ernest Hemingway

Essay by zhjw852University, Bachelor'sA, May 2006

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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. Many novels have two layers of meaning: the first is in the literal plot, while the second is in a symbolic layer in which images and objects represent abstract ideas and feelings. Using symbols usually allows authors to express themselves indirectly on delicate or controversial matters. According to the definition from the Oxford Advanced Learner's English-Chinese Dictionary, symbolism means the use of symbols to represent things; esp. in art and literature. One famous example of symbolism is the letter 'A' in The Scarlet Letter (1850) by American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the novel, the character Hester Prynne wears a scarlet-colored A on her dress to symbolize adultery, of which she was found guilty by judges in her community. Generally speaking, symbolism plays an important role in the development of the novel; this narrative technique is used to give significance to certain people or object.

Hemingway's work "The Old Man and the Sea" is notable for its use of symbolism; the novel revolves around two major symbols: the old man and the sea. Besides that, some other objects that are described in the novel also have their symbolic meanings, such as Manolin, the marlin, the shark, the lion, etc. The Old Man and the Sea is a novel of much symbolic and the thesis of this article is the analysis of various usage of symbolism in the novel.

1. Different symbolic meanings of the old man:

1.1 The old man Santiago stands for the indestructible spirit of human beings.

In the novel, the old man, living in very poor conditions, is strong for his age and has a lot of scars; and his hometown is a little fishing village in Cuba. However, he still firmly...