Can you please help me as I need to write an essay on: 'The symbols emphasised in the poem Maud by Alfred Tennyson. What sort of things should I be writing? Symbols of poem Maud?

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Interpretation of symbolism depends, to a great degree, on the context of the work in which the symbols appear.  Fire, for instance, can suggest one meaning in one work and another meaning in another. Nevertheless, dictionaries of symbolism can give you good clues as to how different symbols might function.  One of the best of such dictionaries is by Hans Biedermann; even better, perhaps, is a two-volume work by Gertrude Jobes, which discusses how different symbols have been used in different cultures and different religious traditions.

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Unfortunately, interpretation varies from reader to reader. How I see symbolism in a poem could be very different from how you see it. A reader needs to relate to a poem to understand a poem and its symbolism. If I were to give you my interpretation of how symbolism is used I could, unintentionally, confuse you more. (Based upon the fact that you do not relate to what I am saying.)

Therefore, the entire paper will revolve around how you, personally, interpret the symbolism in the poem. The best paper will examine your personal interpretation of how the symbolism works--not mine.

I hope you understand.

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Any time that one is writing about the symbolism in poetry, the critic/writer must be sure to examine the impact the symbols have on the poem itself.

Important questions to ask when writing about a poem's symbolism are:

1. What are the symbols used in the poem?

2. How do the symbols support coherence or incoherence?

3. Do the symbols used fit into groups? (Are groups assigned by color, abstract ideas, concrete ideas, implied, or explicit?)

4. How do the symbols impact the mood of the poem?

5. How do the symbols impact understanding for the reader?

6. Do the symbols provide a deeper understanding for the reader or do they alienate the reader?

7. Have the use of the symbols changed over time? Does the meaning of the symbol now alienate the reader because of the different meaning?

8. Has the meaning of the poem changed because of the poet's use of symbols and the understanding of the symbols by the reader?

Therefore, when looking at Tennyson's poem "Maud," one should be sure to examine the symbol of darkness. There are many different references to darkness and one must find all of them, define the symbols used, and decide how they are used in the poem.

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