How to Write a Plot Symbolism College Essay

In literature any object can be a symbol.
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Plot and symbolism are two aspects of literature that combine to elevate the piece as a whole. It is customary for college professors to ask students to write a plot symbolism essay on a specific literary work. By analyzing the fundamental elements of both plot and symbolism, how one interacts with the other surfaces, and it becomes clear how to construct a college essay.

1 Plot Identification

In order to write a plot symbolism essay, it’s essential to understand exactly what plot is. Plot is the form into which the writer constructs experiences, since experiences by themselves are without form. The author constructs a plot by putting experiences into a story line -- a beginning, middle and end, for example. Once you’ve identified the form of the piece and all the plot points, sufficient analysis of the plot can take place.

2 Plot Analysis

A powerful plot will be believable and surprising. You should analyze these aspects in your plot symbolism essay. If you don’t believe a plot point is feasible, the author hasn’t done a fine enough job constructing it. Similarly, if there isn’t any point that surprises you over the course of the text, the writer has failed to achieve something fundamental. For example, if you can predict every turn the protagonist’s marriage takes, the writer hasn’t created anything of value. Include your analysis of the plot in your plot symbolism essay.

3 Symbol Analysis

Even though there is a level of ambiguity to all elements of literature, and symbols aren’t exempt, it is your job in a plot symbolism essay to expertly analyze the most dominant symbols. Explain which symbols are clear. Even though the protagonist’s expensive car could be both a symbol of wealth and evil, describe how the writer clarifies this. If it’s the way the protagonist starts firing his workers after buying the car that injects the vehicle with a sense of evil, highlight this in your essay. Analysis of major symbols is key in a plot symbolism essay.

4 Interaction

The plot is constantly interacting with the major symbols in a literary piece. This should also be a central topic in your plot symbolism essay. Be aware of how the major symbols interact with the major plot points. If in the climax of the novel both the protagonist and antagonist fight over the green chair that represents money, it is a prime example of a symbol interacting with the plot, and your analysis should explain and expand on it.

Jake Shore is an award-winning Brooklyn-based playwright, published short story writer and professor at Wagner College. His short fiction has appeared in many publications including Litro Magazine, one of London's leading literary magazines. Shore earned his MFA in creative writing from Goddard College.