Symbolism in English Literature – Meaning and Characteristics


Symbolism was a literary movement that emerged during the Victorian Era in the late 19th century. It is deeply interconnected with Impressionism and resembles the same in 

Characteristics of Symbolism

Symbolic Use of Language

As the name of the movement suggests, works produced under Symbolism made extensive use of symbols and figurative language that were often ambiguous and obscured the meaning they intended at first glance and teased the intellect of the reader. 


As for Impressionism, subjectivity was an important element included in Symbolism too. The works produced recorded the feelings, emotions, and experiences of the central characters in a vivid manner. 


Along with the exploration of beauty, these works also delved into spirituality and the idea of the supreme. They wished to be one with the transcendental power of the world.

Symbolism Major Poets List and Their Important Works

Charles Baudelaire

Baudelaire was the most prominent of the Symbolists. He is renowned for his collection of poems “Les Fleurs du Mal”, often cited for its exquisite symbols.

Arthur Rimbaud

Rimbaufd was an eminent figure of Symbolism and Impressionism. Famous works of his include “A Season in Hell” and “Illuminations”.

Paul Verlaine

Verlaine again too was a notable Symbolist and Impressionist. Famous works of his include “Romances sans paroles” and “Fêtes galantes”. 


Symbolism thus was an important movement that opened new avenues in literature and played a significant role in the shaping of the same in the Victorian era.