Importance of Symbols in “the Thing in the Forest”

Topics: World War II, Short story, Thing Pages: 4 (1378 words) Published: December 10, 2011
Brandon Doder

Importance of Symbols in “The Thing in the Forest”

In many fairytales, we are given characters who set out on an adventure to better themselves whether they know that they are on one or not. In A.S. Byatt’s “The Thing in the Forest” we are taken on such an adventure, but this is more than just a children’s fairytale. Through figurative language we are shown that the main characters, Penny and Primrose, are dealing with more than just a creature in the forest, and that with this use of symbols as a way to express a larger meaning to objects in the story, we better understand how Penny and Primrose are dealing with being away from their family during a time of war in England. In this story we are exposed to the horrors of war during World War II in rural England. The two main characters, Penny and Primrose, are sent away from their homes in London during the time when Germany was bombing the major metropolitan areas of England. We find out early that the girls do not know each other but quickly form a bond that will help them work though the experiences that that are thrown at them. They arrive at the safe house in the country before they are sent to another family’s homes. During this in between time, the girls venture into the forest near the house and believe that they come across a thing moving through the forest. This experience stays with both of them for the rest of their lives and both have their own way of dealing with what they think they saw. To get a better understanding of the girls experience away from home, Byatt uses many forms of figurative language to convey underlying messages or events that happen especially in the forest. The most prominent types of figurative language are the use of symbols. By making the “thing” have the smells and look of war mashed together, not only the visual we are left, but also what the “thing” means to the girls and to the story, makes it harder to figure out if the girls...

Cited: Byatt, A.S. “The Thing in the Forest.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. 10th ed. Ed. Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. New York: Norton, 2010. 224-238. Print.
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