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Symbolism Of The Journey English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2040 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Our world is full of symbols. A symbol is something that represents something else, either by association or by resemblance (Symbolism, XXX). It can be a material object or a written sign used to represent something invisible. “Symbols are used to convey feelings, describe settings, presents characters, heighten conflict and create various moods”. (clugston, p. 7.3) It seems that everything in our world uses symbols to communicate. In Language words are symbols. In Writing symbolism makes use of phrase, to describe, or represent deeper meanings. In Religion symbols are used in text, images and procedures, objects to make clear a belief. In Mathematics symbols are used to represent numbers, operations and set or other functions. In the Politics symbols are used to represent political stands, often in banners, pictures, mottos and other things. There are symbols for colors, Architecture, and the list go on for ever. This paper will show symbolism in writing, between a short story and a poem. In the short “the worn Path” written by Eudora Welty and “The Road not taken” by Robert Frost symbolism is used in the title, langue, and the power of choice.

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Robert Frost wrote “The Road not taken” his poetry is essential to understanding and recognizing that sound symbolism is put to use generally in the works of a given poet to fruitfully supplement traditional analyses of particular passages” (Borroff, 1992, p. 1) Robert Frost is best known for his proficiency in langue of the “speaking voice” not conspicuously marked by the systems of alliteration and assonance that characterize other writers. The Title in the poem is symbolism because it set the reader on edge from the beginning. The poem does not tell who the speaker is, or more importantly whether he or she can be trusted. The poem does not give much information about the speaker but immediately a “path” is introduced. The “path” a symbol for of a decision uses words to make clear his dilemma. The big decision or the path he is walking on; and the life he is leading, is about to split into two separate roads up ahead. Leaves are falling and the roads are not much traveled. The title serves as a symbol to so show the poem will use symbolism. The two roads diverged in a yellow wood , and the writer leaves the reader sorry he can not travel both paths. There are two paths, he must choose one or the other, this is certain symbolism established by with the title.

The poem not only shows symbolism in the title, but all four stanza of the poem are equally full of symbols. The langue of the poem expresses symbolism, words like “grassy and wanted wear” and “more overgrown”, help us to make a clear picture the road demand a decision not visible by the naked eye. The language of the poem brings symbolism to the speaker choice and independence. The speaker in the poem decide to take the first path not following other people’s footsteps, makes the decision his very own. This course of action in his life will demonstrate that a challenge was issued when he arrived at the path and a decision was made that will alter his life forever. He can never go back and remake is initial decision, it is final. The job of the writer was to make the final decision clear to the reader, so he used “choosing the road less traveled has made a difference in his life” (clugston) The words used by the writer says clearly the his choosing this road make all the difference in his life by helping him develop his own direction. The poem used descriptive words to show symbolism from the beginning to the end of the poem, each stanza delivers a clear decision that has to be made and has been made.

The title of this poem may very well be the key to understanding this poem. The title talks about the road not taken, so immediately we begin to focus on something that others don’t do. We can think about think like miss opportunities, or things others will not do. The title show indifference and unbalance, one minute the road is less traveled, the next minute it is grassy, or both paths equally covered with fresh leaves. It seems the writer is moving from morning to evening, or spring to autumn, or winter.

The poem also uses symbolism to show choice. The choice influences the speakers’ character in the poem. The use of symbolism in the poem help the reader to understand that the choice made is a life decision. The poem shows the traveler make a choice that is permanent, one that will be significant in his life. The choice is shown that the poem perhaps is given in future tense, because the writer says with a “sigh” which demonstrates the telling of this story will be done over and over again time to come. The speaker made a choice, and took a path, he gave up his chance to take another path, or choose again. The choice help the reader to see by use of symbolism that life can be a time of complexities of choice. Life can be full of missed opportunities and choices. The choice is not just a path but a way of life.

For our second journey into our study on symbolism we have selected “A Worn Path” which was first published in 1941 (Orr, 1992) and is still a very widely read short story. A character story (Clugston, 2010), “A Worn Path” is a short story about an old African American female name Phoenix who is on her way to get medicine for her grandson, who has previously been hurt by swallowing lye and her goal is to find medicine that will provide him with physical relief. For Phoenix, this is not a onetime journey, but a repeated journey that she has to make often with love and devotion.

As the title implies, “A Worn Path,” Phoenix’s journey is a journey that she has to repeat often, for her grandson’s condition is not going to improve and the pain that he suffers is only eased by the medicine that his grandmother’s pilgrimages Natchez to provide. The title reminds us that Phoenix’s journey is not an easy journey. Although she has traveled this path weekly, or maybe even daily it is not easy for her. For each time she makes the path, even if it is the identical path she took on yesterday, it is never the same. For each day, she has to undergo multiple obstacles and hurdles that her station in life will not let her go around or avoid.

Although Phoenix’s path is worn, we not really presented with the end of her journey, we know that she is head to town, which is the middle of the journey, but we not given her final destination. The hunter that Phoenix’s meets along her path tells her that her path is unmanageable (Orr, 1992) for her, “Why, that’s too far,” (Welty, 1941) he argues, however Phoenix’s strength comes from within. Her strength to make the journey is not a physical strength that matches his but a strength that comes from the heart and soul fueled by love.

Not only do we find symbolism in the title of this poem, but also there is symbolism found threaded throughout the words of this short story. Many critics claim that it is just a short story about an old lady looking for medicine (Orr, 1992), but the poem runs much deeper than that. The author has done a wonderful job emphasizing the natural symbolisms of Phoenix’s surroundings, even down to the choice of Phoenix Jackson, a women of endurance and has determination and fortitude in making the journey on foot, for the main character’s name, Phoenix, which is an Egyptian bird symbolizing resurrection. The Egyptian bird is said to come out of Arabia every 500 years to Heliopolis, where it burned itself on the altar and rose again from its ashes, young and beautiful. Even at her age and at her outward appearance of weakness, she continues to preserve and is just as beautiful and dignified in her own right, because of what she represents in each of love, sacrifice and us. Even the physical description of Phoenix reflects natural symbolism, “her skin has a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles as though a whole little tree stood in the middle of her forehead,” which shares with the reader longevity and toughness. Even at her age, the red of scarf shares with us the passion that she still has for life and the reminder that no matter how bleak her future looks she still has hope. Her cane, made from an old broken umbrella continues to demonstrate her determination as she uses it to scatters the brush and small animals around her.

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Even the hills that she has to climb to make her journey, “chains about my feet,” shares with us the hard life that hat she has to travel to get what she wants, not just to town, but daily just to exist, but she does not give up just keeps climbing. When she reaches the top, she looks back and gives “a full severe look behind where she had come” (Welty, 1941). Even on the trek down, which should be easy, a bush catches her dress, which is just a reminder that nothing is every easy and there will always be things in our path to hold us back and to slow us down.

Throughout her journey, Phoenix encounters many facets of nature, many of which are usually symbolic of death, but its life that Phoenix is seeking. Therefore, she is not deterred by life’s encounters with death; she passes on by the buzzard and dances with the scarecrow. She is seeking life and finds a river that drinks from that represents longevity, which we have found in our main character. Not only is natural symbolism apparent throughout the narrative, but also Christian symbolism is also very apparent.

The narrative is set during the Christmas season has led some critics to associate Phoenix’s journey with that of a religious pilgrimage. Her faultless concern for grandson represents the deepest and truest meaning of love and sacrifice. Phoenix is also presented as being in direct conflict with the outside world. In one verse of the short story, as she dreams she is presented with a “slice of marble-cake,” (Welty, 1941) to Phoenix this is heaven, but when she reaches for it vanishes, like so many of her dreams before but she continues her journey.

She is an icon in a otherwise white society, she is overlooked, miss understood, and put down as simple and pitiful, when is actually a very strong and determine woman, who faces obstacles that would have left many lying in the trenches of her worn path. Her deep sense of honest is tested with the finding of a nickel, “God watching me the whole time. I come to stealing” (Welty, 1941). The action burdens her but her need is far greater. So her journey continues.

Like Robert Frost’s “The Road less Traveled,” “A Worn Path” is a short story that represents a choices that has to be made in life. Unlike the “The Road less Traveled”, “A Worn Path” represents a path that is made over and over again, but is no less a difficult path each and every time. Although the path is well traveled, it is never the same and the obstacles, represented by nature are constantly changing and every present, the story is not primarily centered on the journey, but the woman herself. Phoenix, our man character, continues onward and upward, not giving up and not backing down. She faces her path with grace and dignity and is not hampered by the things in life that slow her down or try to change her direction. She has set her course and strength for the journey is her love for her grandson. Phoenix represents the determinations and the audacity of hope that can be found within each of us if dig deep enough. Her journey also reminds that life does not necessary gets any easier with age, but we have to keep pressing forward. She reminds each of us that there has to be something within ourselves that motivates us, be it love for a spouse or love for our children, something has to keep us going, keep us getting up in the morning traveling our on worn paths.


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