Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Beauty


Every day we interact with objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. This can be used to the writer's advantage by planting symbols in the reader's path to reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.

Look at the setting and the character's state of mind, and then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character's emotional plight?

Obviously, beauty is subjective. But to make one's point in a written passage, an author should choose symbols that appeal to the largest audience possible. Because of this, today's entry will focus on symbols that are more universal.

In Nature:
A rose
Other flowers
A horse in motion
A picturesque view
A tropical paradise
Wildflower meadows
Mountain valleys
A private beach
Sun shining through clouds
Sun on water
A flawless gem
The human body

In Society:
A pretty face
Long, thick hair
Slender legs
Full lips
Long lashes
A curvy silhouette
Pageant crowns/sashes
Princesses in general
Snow White
Beauty (and the Beast)
Grace Kelly
Magazine covers
A fashion show
Beauty marks
A beauty shop
The Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo's David
Perfect symmetry

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Beauty. Some are more powerful than others. A red rose is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a tropical paradise might stand for a number of things (isolation, exoticism, tranquility) and may not exemplify beauty on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.


The Golden Eagle said...

Thanks, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! :)

Interesting post on symbolism--and a very helpful list!

Beth said...

Great suggestions!

Emilia Plater said...

This is awesome! I've used your blog so many times in the past and I can't tell you how useful it's been. Today for Thanksgiving... I want to thank you a million times for all the work you and Angela put in! <3

Angela Ackerman said...

Aw, you are beyond sweet, Emilia! Thank you for visiting and I wish all you guys a Happy Thanksgiving! :)


Becca Puglisi said...

I'm so glad it's helping. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Jan Markley said...

what a beautiful blog post!

Patti Lacy said...

You go, you wordsmith, you!!!
Fun reminder of SHOW, SHOW, SHOW.

Stephen Tremp said...

Great blog! I'm going to save this one. Good writers plant images and clues throughout the story to help guide or temporarily mislead the reader.

Holly Ruggiero said...

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

I use plants/flowers in my writing as signs, but not for beauty ;)

Lisa Gail Green said...

Mirroring the character's emotional plight through the world around her (or him) is a great tool. And I never would have thought of using a peacock. :D

Cher Green said...

Great blog! You've been extremely busy posting since I've been here last. I'll have to spens some time scouting around all the new posts.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Conda V. Douglas said...

Thanks Angela, and a post on beauty is great for Thanksgiving as I for one am grateful for it!

Susanne Drazic said...

Thanks for sharing this. Lots of good ideas.

Becca Puglisi said...

It was very interesting, seeing the different ways people view beauty and how it's portrayed across cultures. Makes me want to do an ugly post and see what we find, lol.

Lydia Kang said...

What a fun and fascinating post! It's amazing to see the spectrum of things that "beauty" brings up.

kangaroobee said...

Great ideas thanks!

SWK said...

My favorite: "sun shining through clouds" - beauty PLUS hope! Thanks for another great list. - Stasia


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