Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Bondage/Enslavement

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?

In Nature:
Spider's web
A strangler fig
Boa constrictor
Mud holes
Venus fly trap/carnivorous plants

In Society:
Animal traps
A whip
Slave ships
Harem girls
Domestic abuse
Mental disorders
Mental institutions

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with bondage. Some are more powerful than others. A set of heavy shackles is a strong
symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. Mental illness, on the other hand, may not foreshadow bondage on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.


Becky said...

I particularly like quicksand--I think it's not only the connotation of helplessness, but also slowly sinking and the pending suffocation that makes it particularly vivid for me. I'm feeling claustrophobic just thinking about it.

Another great post!

Matthew Rush said...

Okay, that tree, coupled with this post = creepy.

tracikenworth said...

Bondage is a tough area to write but necessary in some stories(like my own, lol.)to further the growth/coming to terms/rise to power of the heroine/hero in those situations. I will definitely think of using some of your examples in my own work!!

....Petty Witter said...

Hi Angela, I saw you highlighted on Melissa's site and thought I'd stop by and say hello. Nice to meet you, I've enjoyed my visit.

Angela Felsted said...

If you're ever at a loss for bondage symbols, you can always go to google and image search it.

Just make sure you're on safe mode first. Love the picture of the tree.

Becca Puglisi said...

Lol. While coming up with ideas, I made the mistake of googling symbols for bondage. Ewwwwww. Hence the added 'enslavement' to the title. Just so no visitors are misled...

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This will help nicely with my new project!! :-)

....Petty Witter said...

Just stopping by to say thanks for your return visit, its great that you have become a follower. x

Charlie Pulsipher said...

I was a little worried when I saw the title Ü I laugh that you googled it without thinking of the consequences.
Funny Stuff I Write

C.R. Evers said...

another great list. Way to go guys!

wondering04 said...

You know words or habits can also be a bondage if there is a strong emotional reason for them.


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