The Symbol of Death in Novels and Its Different Samples

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Death | 0 comments

Photo by Mitja Juraja

The symbol of death in novels is often used in literary contexts to showcase a character’s passing or hint at a deeper notion of “death and rebirth.”

Wayman Jackson, author of The Sword of the Spirit: In the Shadow of Death, knows the true value of death in novels and stories. As a writer and author, he has created an entire narrative focusing on death as one of the main antagonists. Readers can expect a great tale from Wayman, and they’ll be excited to see what happens on the pages.

Now, let’s examine the different symbolisms of death in the literary world.

Defining Death Symbolism in the Literary World

In literature, depicting items and phenomena connected to death is known as death symbolism. These pictures heighten the text’s emotional impact, hint at tragic story points, or portray life’s fragility.

Literature has explored death as a common theme since the beginning of time. It is represented by many literary symbols from antiquity, religious writings (like the Bible), contemporary works, poetry, and short stories.

The mystery surrounding death is the reason it’s such a popular theme. Since no one can know what exists before birth or after death, many imaginative hypotheses and theories surround these ideas.

What Exactly Does Death Signify in Literature?

Let us first address the subject of what death itself symbolizes before delving into the symbolism of mortality. Well, it can play a variety of roles in literature according to the characters, theme, and plot of the work:

  • A betrayal of empathy and charity;
  • A virtue over vice triumphant (or vice versa);
  • A fair action taken.
  • A prompt of our mortality;
  • An unfulfilled dream or hope;
  • Symbolizing aging and deterioration;

You may see that death itself can have a symbolic meaning. Lennie’s failure in Of Mice and Men, for instance, represents the demise of the American Dream.

Common Examples of Symbols of Death Found in Literature

Let’s now talk about the most typical items used in literary representations of death. These pictures are deeply connected to death because they can be found in stories from many historical and cultural contexts.

The symbol of death in novels comes as a personification, raven, clock, river, and flowers. Here’s a brief explanation of each:


Some writers give death a personality, giving beings that resemble humans their abilities. Their job is usually to transport the departed people’s souls to the underworld. The Sword of the Spirit: In the Shadow of Death, authored by Wayman Jackson, has personified death, giving him a supernatural form.


Death representations in literature also include ravens. Another well-known picture used to metaphorically depict death is a raven. Crows and ravens are now harbingers of violence and bloodshed, a negative connotation derived from Edgar Allan Poe’s writings.


The counting down of time is a fundamental link between time and death. Every person has a finite lifespan that ends in death, and no one knows how much time they have left on Earth. For this reason, a clock image introduced correctly represents death’s inevitable approach. Emily Dickinson’s “A Clock Stopped” contains one such instance.


In literature, rivers represent the passing of time. Therefore, they are proportionately associated with both life and death. Ancient people worshipped rivers as gods and even created personifications of them. Another symbolic meaning of crossing a river is a change in life or death.


Flowers have also been included in the symbolism of death. Blossoms bloom quickly and then disintegrate immediately after. Because of this, they are frequently employed as a metaphor—as Ophelia’s flowers in Shakespeare’s Hamlet—for the fleeting nature of existence.

Other well-known death flowers are gladiolus, chrysanthemum, and monkey orchid. Lilies are one of the most well-known death flowers worldwide.

The Symbol of Death in Novels Is One That Authors Should Use

You are now knowledgeable about the literary study of death symbolism in different works. Use our advice and analysis to better understand the book you’re reading.

Purchase a copy of The Sword of the Spirit: In the Shadow of Death, penned by Wayman Jackson, to read a fantastic tale wherein the symbol of death is used as a character. Visit his website at to get the book today.

Check out our other articles, too, and discover other riveting stories about death with Reflections: Stories of Life and Death!


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