The Symbolism of Water

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The Symbolism of Water

Many works of literature use symbols to represent abstract ideas. One symbol that is commonly used is water. Water is a viable symbol because it is versatile. It can be used to represent many different ideals because water in itself is ever changing. Water is used in many works to represent such ideals as death, life, love, betrayal, purity, holiness, and so on. Giglamesh, the Old Testament, Egyptian Poetry, and The Odyssey all have symbolized water to represent an idea portrayed in the work.

Giglamesh symbolizes water in two different meanings, as life and death. Giglamesh uses water to represent life is Gilgamesh's dreams. When Gilgamesh and Enkidu travel are on their quest to kill Humbaba, Gilgamesh has a series of dreams. In the first dream, he dreams that he is attacked and he is refreshed with water. He says, "It bellowed and beat up the dust till the whole sky was dark, my arm was seized and my tongue bitten. I fell back on my knee; then someone refreshed me with water from his water-skin (21)." The use of water in this dream could signify life. He was given life after he had been attacked. In another dream that he had, Giglamesh dreams of the mountain falling around him and a man takes him and gives him water to drink and his heart was comforted. He says, "We stood in a deep gorge of the mountain, and beside it we two were like the smallest of swamp flies; and suddenly the mountain fell, it struck me and caught my feet from under me. Then came an intolerable light blazing out, and in it was one whose grace and whose beauty were greater than the beauty of the world. He pulled me out from under the mountain, he gave me water to drink and my heart was comforted, and he sat my feet on the ground (21)." In this statement, water is once again portrayed as life. When he is given the water to drink, he is given life to drink and because of this his heart becomes comforted.

Giglamesh also symbolizes water as death. Towards...
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