Globe Symbolism


The globe is a powerful symbol that has been used in literature since ancient times. It represents the concept of unity, wholeness, and universality. Its shape also symbolizes the cycle of life and the continuous motion of the world. Through its depiction in literature, the globe has been used to convey deep and meaningful messages, making it an essential tool for writers to communicate complex ideas.

One of the most notable uses of the globe symbol in literature can be seen in William Shakespeare’s play, “King Lear.” In the play, Lear, the old king, divides his kingdom among his two elder daughters and banishes his youngest daughter, Cordelia, who refuses to flatter him like her sisters. As the play progresses, the kingdom descends into chaos and Lear’s mental state deteriorates. In a powerful moment of realization, he holds a globe and exclaims, “How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides… behold the trembling orphans of the world!” The image of Lear holding a globe conveys the idea that all humans are part of a larger world, and the actions of one can have a ripple effect on others. It also shows Lear’s newfound understanding of his mistake in dividing his kingdom and disowning Cordelia.

Another powerful use of the globe symbol can be found in Mary Shelley’s novel, “Frankenstein.” In the novel, the character of Victor Frankenstein creates a creature and abandons it, only to realize the consequences of his actions later on. The creature, who is shunned by society, confronts Frankenstein and compares their situation to “God and Adam, as creator and creation.” The creature’s use of the globe as a symbol highlights the idea that all humans are interconnected, and one’s actions can have far-reaching consequences. It also shows the imbalance of power between the creator and creation, and the responsibility that comes with playing God.

The globe symbol is also present in modern literature, such as in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. In the books, the realm of Middle Earth is divided into various regions, each with its own distinct characteristics. The quest to destroy the One Ring and unite all the races of Middle Earth is a metaphor for the world’s need for harmony and unity. The One Ring itself can be seen as a globe, representing the power and unity that comes from bringing all the pieces together.

Aside from its use as a symbol of unity and interconnectedness, the globe is also a symbol of time and the cycle of life. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” the character of Roger Chillingworth, who seeks revenge on his wife Hester after she commits adultery, is described as having a deformity on his chest that resembles a red-hot globe. This symbolizes the internal torment and fiery passion that drives him to seek revenge, ultimately leading to his downfall.

In Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick,” the globe symbol is used to represent the cyclical nature of life and death. The image of the globe appears throughout the novel as a representation of Captain Ahab’s obsession with revenge against the white whale, Moby Dick. The harpoons used to kill whales are also described as having globes with “all the eyes” of the world, highlighting the all-seeing power and inevitability of death.

In conclusion, the use of the globe symbol in literature is highly versatile and significant. It conveys universal concepts of unity, interconnectedness, and the cycle of life. It is a powerful tool for writers to express complex ideas and has been used throughout the ages to add depth and meaning to literary works. From Shakespeare to modern writers, the globe continues to be a prevalent and meaningful symbol in literature.