HomeKayamagvol. 2 no. 1 (2007)

Semiotics and Symbolism: Their Interpretative Impact in the Choice Literary Works of Ernest Hemingway

Pepito D. Sinodlay

Discipline: Literature



Teaching and appreciating literature entail the reader to have knowledge in literary criticism. It is a skill that helps reader to understand deeper meaning of literary pieces for aesthetic appreciation. Hence, this study intends to decipher critically the underlying meaning of Hemingway's choice literary works using the literary criticism approaches such as semiotics and symbolism vis-à-vis formalistic approach. Hemingway's novel "The Old Man and the Sea" and the short story "Hills like White Elephants" are the foci of this study. Specifically, this paper aims to find answers to the following queries:

(1) How is semiotics exemplified in Hemingway's choice literary works?;

(2) How is symbolism exemplified in Hemingway's choice literary works?;

(3) What is the interpretative impact of semiotics and symbolism in Hemingway's choice literary works in terms of affective value, ideational value, and the total effect?; and (4) From the analysis made, what lesson guides would be developed?

The research findings reveal that semiotics and symbolism play vital role in veneering the latent meaning of Hemingway's literary works. For instance the novel The Old Man and the Sea is such a simple story of an old Cuban fisherman. Its plot is so simple and common that few readers are attracted by it. We see fishermen around us and we know their way of life. It seems that nothing new and intriguing about them. Likewise, with the short story entitled Hills Like White Elephants is as simple as the other story.

However, the researcher finds that these simple stories become very intriguing and interesting upon utilizing semiotics and symbolism as literary criticism approaches.

Furthermore, another shades of beautiful meanings surface after scrutinizing the affective and ideational values as well as the total effect of the literary piece to the readers. It is therefore recommended that semiotics and symbolism shall be used in teaching literature to college students' vis-à-vis other literary criticism approaches to widen students' horizon in terms of literary criticism and appreciation.

Finally, the researcher provides two lesson guides in teaching semiotics and symbolism. These lesson guides would hopefully help literature professors simplify the teaching of semiotics and symbolism.