Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Depression

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:
Fog
Gray skies
Drizzling rain
Heavy, low-hanging clouds
Stagnant water
Drooping flowers
Sodden, weighed-down grass
Fallow land
A stunted tree
A heavy stone
A pit or hole
Tears

In Society:
A bed
Insomnia
Medication/Drugs
Lethargy
Isolation
Volatility
Black or gray
Silhouettes (devoid of color, lacking substance)
Stringy hair
Unwashed body
Dragging steps
Weight loss or weight gain
A fading light
A narrowing path
Suicide
A boarded up house


These are just a few examples of things one might associate with depression. Some are more powerful than others. Fog is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a hole in the ground could stand for a number of different things and not foreshadow depression on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

13 comments:

Grandpa said...

They are all the right symbols, and apt descriptions of depression. I know as I have been there - except for the suicide part.

Laura Pauling said...

Great job - both of you! Thanks!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Awesome list as always. I'm going to need this for my next wip. :)

Bish Denham said...

If I weren't feeling so springy I'd get to feeling sad...Good job!

Clarissa Draper said...

I suffer from this and the list is exactly what I feel. Great list.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This will come in handy for my new project. :-)

Traci Kenworth said...

A powerful area to wade into. Thanks for the symbolism and examples. I will be sure to mark this for future reference!!

Becca Puglisi said...

Sadly, I've had some experience in this area. It's sad that so many of us have. The upside is that many of our characters will, too, so we can at least put our experiences to good use.

Matthew MacNish said...

Oh man, well done. The first picture isn't loading on my browser, but I'm picturing fallow fields, plowed ages ago, and now dry and cracked, with a cold grey sky in the background.

Thanks Becca!

Fluid Idleness said...

I love this blog. Thank u!

Leslie Rose said...

Great list! I'd add lack of eye contact to the society list. Thank you, Becca.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Wow, another amazing post. I especially liked fog. Thank you for this, Becca.

Medeia Sharif said...

Great list. Some of this reminds me of The Bell Jar.

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