You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘symbol’ tag.

These two are easily confused with each other, and it’s no wonder why! The two are related to each other, blurring the line between. I was guilty of using the two almost interchangeably in my early years of high school, until I read this:

“A metaphor is not language, it is an idea expressed by language, an idea that in its turn functions as a symbol to express something.” – Susanne Langer

Let’s go through a quick definition. A metaphor is a rhetorical device in which the traits of something are attributed to something else, but not in a literal sense. It helps to understand that a simile is a type of metaphor, so let’s take a look at an example:

“But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walk o’er the dew of yon high eastern hill” – Hamlet, William Shakespeare.

The coming of morning is likened to being clad in a “russet mantle” (where russet is a red-orange tinted brown). Now obviously, this is not literal. Morning does not wear any clothing. The russet mantle is a metaphor for the rising sun and the colour of dawn.

Let’s look at symbols now. These are not used in rhetoric or discourse, and is usually a specific thing that represents some other thing or concept. Symbols, unlike metaphors, are not specific or definitive in their interpretation. They carry a wide range of ideas through generations in an almost meme like fashion. Because of this, the symbol’s meaning must be inferred from context. For example, anything long and roughly cylindrical can be considered a phallic symbol; whether or not it was intended that way depends entirely on the context.

Definition aside, this is what really helps me remember the difference. Metaphors are like similes, they liken the principle term to something else (whether it be a thing, idea or process) to endow the principle term with characteristics reminiscent of that which it has been likened to. A symbol is much more succinct; it can be a single thing (usually an object but not limited to one) that is not directly given meaning through comparison (like a simile/metaphor) but whose meaning is created by the context in which that symbol is used. Basically, that means I don’t have to explain a symbol because that’s for the reader to determine for themselves based on what’s been written, whereas a metaphor must be directly explained by the text.


Surprisingly enough, I do not completely reject the notion of dream interpretation, though to paraphrase Sheldon Cooper, astrology is complete hokum.

The reason why I consider dream interpretation slightly more realistic is because rather than narcissistically claiming self-importance or self-worth based on arbitrarily defined constellations, dreams are a product of one’s self. Don’t get me wrong, the entire “industry” for dream interpretation is basically a scam to lure in the weak minded, but at its core, a dream is a series of information that your brain is processing during REM sleep. Often, it can manifest in mundane ways, but sometimes the dream is abstract (my favourite) and is thus more confusing. The crux of the matter here is that a dream is simply an obscure collection of information that you already know – thus dreams cannot predict the future (in any useful way) or any of that other nonsense, but they can be a manifestation of your current concerns.

I wrote this article with a post I had in mind where I interpreted someone’s dream for them, but unfortunately I think that person removed his post so I can’t use it as an example. Suffice to say it was an abstract desert setting in which he came under attack by mysterious riders, one of whom (the only one whose face he could see) was a beautiful woman. I interpreted the barren, primitive setting as an allusion to abandonment and isolation, the attack as a feeling of alienation and victimisation, and the woman as a latent sexual frustration. Combined, I saw the dream as a manifestation of the poster’s feeling of loneliness, caused by a constant lack of success with women, to the point where his automatic reaction to them was one of defence (they being the source of some pain), and the specific woman’s face to be indicative of one particular girl at the current time that he’s been thinking of. Naturally, I made this interpretation without any contextual knowledge of the person, which may have increased the accuracy, but surprisingly he responded a few days later that it was indeed very accurate and that he had been struggling with the exact issues I mentioned.

Anyway, the point here is he already knew he had these issues – so the dream in itself is only telling yourself something you already know. In that regard, it’s an exercise in futility to try and discover something profoundly important in your own dreams because the dream itself will only contain information you already know.

It’s interesting that the majority of dream interpretation involves some sort of latent sexuality. The majority of Sigmund Freud’s dream interpretation works involve sexual symbols (the snake, the number three, the playing of an instrument, etc.) as well as egotism. These are all really just indicators that behind all the pretense, sex and narcissism are hugely important factors to humans.

I just got back from watching The Dark Knight Rises and was quite happy with it. For a film close to three hours, it didn’t feel tedious or boring (as much as it should have) and was quite exciting throughout. I don’t intend this post to say anything other than the fact that it was an enjoyable watch, and the fact that it wasn’t as good as The Dark Knight, unfortunately. This is going to categorised under English because I’ll mention a few English related writing and film techniques.

There will be no spoilers, I’ll keep this very general so as not to ruin anything. I will hint at things though so, if that bugs you, watch the movie first.


I glimpsed an interesting article a few days ago about this movie being a political message. I disagree, and think this is just another case of people reading too deeply into things to try and sound intelligent. While it is true that the creator of any story will inevitably let their personal ideologies seep into their text, I strongly doubt the movie was meant as a political message. However, I do think there was a strong intent to ground the film in reality – a quick look into the story’s plot devices will find several modern day concerns, such as identity theft, corruption, the income gap, returning power to the people (and taking it away from the wealthy), terrorism, government decisions, “structures as shackles” (you’ll understand this after watching the movie), and even the dangers of nuclear-related energy sources (which, despite the recent Japan scare, is stupid to anybody who knows anything about science – candles have killed more people than nuclear reactors, and nuclear power is the greenest power available to us right now; but that’s another rant). This isn’t a bad thing that Nolan’s done. His film was intended to be very gritty and realist in the first place, and as a writer, I know that grounding things in reality is a fast and effective way to build a connection with your audience. For a movie that was trying to say so much, it needed a fast way for us to care. Unfortunately, it missed a bit in that department.

With the introduction of Catwoman, Bane, Ra’s al Ghul’s child, Robin (you’ll find out who he is at the end), and a whole list of other characters with more minor roles, as well as the reinvention of Batman himself, it was very difficult to make a strong connection to the characters. When comparing this to The Dark Knight, we can see a huge contrast. Those of us who are writers will identify two broad categories of stories: character driven and plot driven. A character driven story depends hugely on the audience’s attachment to the characters, whereas a plot driven story relies on the twists and turns of its plot. These are by no means mutually exclusive, but it is almost always possible to identify which of the two a story most strongly identifies with. The Dark Knight was a film that was stolen by the villain (refer to my post on Villains), the Joker, and in Heath Ledger’s absence we can truly see how much of that story was driven by his amazingly played character. By contrast, The Dark Knight Rises is very plot driven. It feels as if we’re watching a series of exciting events unfurl, but there’s no connection to the characters (at least not as strongly as when the Joker was present). Batman’s character was the strongest emotional connections for the audience, with the fall and rise (hence the title) of his mental state, as well as the rise and immortalisation of the symbol of Batman, but compared to the complex love-hate relationship the audience had with the Joker, it feels weak.

The cinematics and mise-en-scenes were done very well, if a bit cheesy (torn US flag wafting in the breeze), and the visual effects really added to the excitement of the story. I’m willing to bet that watching it in the cinemas will be a completely different experience to watching it at home.

The little plot twist at the end feels a bit too sudden for my liking. They chose a good character to play the child, but as somebody who likes throwing in twists, I still think the audience deserves a bit more of a hint lest the twist feel too much like a deus ex machina (a cheap twist thrown in to “spruce things up”). There was no warning for the betrayal, it just happened. Also, the ending [b]did[/b] feel a little too nice (again, deus ex machina when that dude didn’t die – that’s all I can say without ruining it), but considering how things progressed, the chaos that occurred and the rise of Batman as an undying symbol to which future heroes would flock and take up the mantle when needed, it didn’t feel too bad. I guess I didn’t want him to die either.

Anyway, it’s hard to say more without giving away things so I’ll leave it at that. My advice is not to get too excited about the movie. Don’t expect an incredibly feat of awesomeness that would shoot rainbows through the last movie. Treat it like you would going into any other movie you hadn’t watched before and you will thoroughly enjoy it. Unfortunately, The Dark Knight eclipses its sequel, but not by a huge amount.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 191 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 395,103 hits