Symbolism & Representations
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning, while a representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements. Signs are arranged in order to form semantic constructions and express relations.
For many philosophers, both ancient and modern, man is regarded as the “representational animal” or homo symbolicum, the creature whose distinct character is the creation and the manipulation of signs – things that “stand for” or “take the place of” something else.
The term ‘representation’ carries a range of meanings and interpretations. In literary theory, ‘representation’ is commonly defined in three ways.
- To look like or resemble
- To stand in for something or someone
- To present a second time to re-present