Meteorology as a Literary Device: An Analysis of Symbolism and Foreshadowing in Weather Descriptions


Meteorology, the study of weather and climate, has been used as a literary device for centuries to enhance storytelling by creating extended metaphors, foreshadowing events to come, and setting the tone for a scene. In this analysis, we will delve into the world of weather descriptions in literature and explore how authors use it to convey deeper meanings to their readers.

The symbolism of weather in literature is often used to reflect the emotions, mood, and overall atmosphere of a story. It adds depth and complexity to characters and their actions. One of the most iconic examples of this is in the novel “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte. The tumultuous and unpredictable weather of the moors mirrors the tumultuous and passionate relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine. The frequent storms and harsh winds symbolize their fierce love and also foreshadow the chaos and destruction that will come as a result.

Similarly, in “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the weather is used to symbolize the character’s emotions and the state of their relationships. The scorching heat of the summer represents the intense passion between Gatsby and Daisy, but as their love becomes tainted by greed and deceit, the heat becomes unbearable and oppressive. The use of weather descriptions in this novel not only adds depth to the characters but also serves as a commentary on the materialistic and shallow nature of society during the roaring twenties.

Weather can also be used as a foreshadowing device, hinting at events to come and building anticipation in the reader. The most famous example of this is in Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth.” The witches’ prophecy that “fair is foul and foul is fair” sets the tone for the play and foreshadows the deceit and betrayal that will ensue. The recurring image of storms and harsh weather throughout the play also foreshadows the turmoil and destruction that will be brought upon by Macbeth’s ambition.

Furthermore, weather descriptions are often used to set the mood and atmosphere of a scene. In “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte, the descriptions of the gloomy and foggy weather create a sense of mystery and foreboding. The thick mist that surrounds Thornfield Hall symbolizes the secrecy and hidden secrets within. This use of weather not only adds to the Gothic atmosphere of the novel but also gives insight into the inner workings of the characters.

In some cases, weather can even become a character in itself, making its presence known and influencing the actions of the characters. In the novel “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, the relentless dust storms of the Great Depression become a symbol of the struggle and desperation of the Joad family. The violent dust storms, which force the characters to seek shelter and disrupt their plans, reflect the unpredictability of life during this time period.

In conclusion, meteorology has been a valuable literary device for centuries, used by authors to convey deeper meanings and add complexity to their stories. Through symbolism, foreshadowing, and setting the mood, weather descriptions serve as a powerful tool for storytelling. They give readers a deeper understanding of characters and their motivations and create a more immersive reading experience. So the next time you’re reading a book and come across a description of the weather, pay attention, because it just might be telling you more than you think.