Symbolism is "a specific word, idea, or object that may stand for ideas, values, person, or ways of life" (Roberts 2047). When used correctly, symbolism can be very effective. Edwin Arlington Robinson is a master of symbolism and uses it very effectively in his poetry. In "Mr. Flood's Party," Robinson uses symbolism to forewarn his readers of Mr. Flood's inevitable death.
The first symbol Robinson uses that foreshadows Mr. Flood's death is the harvest moon. Mr. Flood says to himself, "we have the harvest moon/ Again, and we may not have many more" (Robinson lines 9-10). A harvest moon suggests that it is the season of autumn which comes near the end of the year. Autumn is a traditional symbol (used in many pieces of literature) that symbolizes one's nearing the end of life.
Another symbol Robinson uses to foreshadow Mr. Flood's death is a bird, "[t]he bird of Time" (Khayyam qtd. in Allison). When Mr. Flood says, "The bird is on the wing," (Robinson line 11) he is alluding to The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that uses a bird for a symbol of time. The bird is flying away much like the time is "flying by" for Mr. Flood.
The most powerful symbol Robinson uses in "Mr. Flood's Party" is the image of a mother and her sleeping child. Mr. Flood has just taken a drink from his jug filled with alcohol
"then, as a mother lays her sleeping child/ Down tenderly, fearing it may awake,/ He [sets] the jug down slowly at his feet/ With trembling care" (Robinson lines 25-28).
In these lines, the mother symbolizes Mr. Flood and the jug symbolizes his life. Mr. Flood is "lying down" his life as if he is preparing to die. This image of Mr. Flood is also a very sad one in that it shows he does not have anyone in his life to be given the kind of affection a mother givers her child and it is pathetic that Mr. Flood's only comfort comes from the bottle of alcohol. Robinson is showing his readers a very lonely man who doesn't have much to live... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2002, 06). Symbolism: "Mr. Flood's Party". StudyMode.com. Retrieved 06, 2002, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Symbolism-Mr-Floods-Party-43351.html
"Symbolism: "Mr. Flood's Party"" StudyMode.com. 06 2002. 06 2002 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Symbolism-Mr-Floods-Party-43351.html>.
"Symbolism: "Mr. Flood's Party"." StudyMode.com. 06, 2002. Accessed 06, 2002. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Symbolism-Mr-Floods-Party-43351.html.