The Symbolism of Weathering in Classic Literature


The weather has long been a powerful symbol in literature, often used by authors to convey deeper meanings and themes. From thunderstorms to gentle breezes, weather is utilized in classic literature to represent a wide range of emotions and ideas. In this article, we will explore the symbolism of weathering in classic literature and how it adds depth and richness to the stories we all know and love.

Nature is often seen as a mirror of the human experience, and weather is no exception. Just as people go through cycles of growth and decay, so too does the natural world. Throughout history, philosophers and writers have pondered the connection between human emotions and the weather, with many viewing weather as a reflection of the human condition. This idea is reflected in literature, where weather is often used to represent the various stages of human life.

One of the most common uses of weather symbolism in classic literature is as a representation of a character’s emotional state. In Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights, the wild and unpredictable weather on the moors serves as a metaphor for the intense emotions of the characters. The turbulent winds and thunderstorms mirror the tumultuous relationships between the characters, while the bleak and desolate landscape reflects their harsh and unforgiving natures.

Similarly, in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the strange and unnatural weather serves as a foreshadowing of the tragic events to come. The famous line “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” not only references the inversion of moral values in the play, but also the strange and eerie weather that is present throughout. The dark and ominous clouds, the thunder and lightning, all serve as a warning of the darkness and deceit that will consume the characters.

Weather is also often used to convey a sense of isolation and loneliness in classic literature. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for example, the harsh and frigid weather of the Arctic serves as a reflection of the isolated and desolate state of the creature. The extreme cold and darkness of the setting mirrors the creature’s own isolation and longing for companionship. This use of weather symbolism not only adds depth to the story but also helps the reader to better understand the emotional state of the character.

In addition to representing emotions, weather can also symbolize larger societal issues and themes in classic literature. In John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, for instance, the relentless dust storms that plague the characters symbolize the destructive effects of the Great Depression on the lives of ordinary people. The unrelenting winds and dust clouds serve as a metaphor for the economic and social upheaval of the time, and the struggle of the characters to survive in the face of these challenges.

It is not just extreme weather that holds symbolic meaning in literature, but also the more subtle aspects of the weather. For example, rain is often used to represent both cleansing and renewal. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the rain that falls on the characters at the end of the novel serves as a symbolic cleansing of the corrupt and decadent society in which they live. Similarly, in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, the rain that falls during the tragic climax of the story symbolizes the washing away of the protagonist’s hopes and dreams.

In conclusion, weathering is a powerful tool used by classic authors to add layers of meaning and depth to their writing. Whether it is used to represent emotions, societal issues, or larger themes, weather offers a rich and evocative symbol that can enhance the reader’s understanding and experience of a story. As readers, we should pay attention to the weather in literature, for it is often a key to unlocking the deeper symbolism within the text.