The Symbolism of Storms in Literature

atkins-bookshelf-literatureAs he rushes away from his two wicked daughters, Goneril and Regan, King Lear was a fool not to consult a weather app to discover that it was a dark and stormy night on the heath. Not a great time to make a get-away. Nevertheless, the tormented king, tempest-tossed and rain-soaked, inches his way across the heath, raging against the raging storm: “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! / You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout / Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!” Although the old boy has lost his mind, he certainly has not lost his pluck!

Shakespeare introduces the thunderstorm to create a dramatic mood for the scene, but just as important, to function as a metaphor to represent Lear’s psychological state — madness. On another level, the storm mirrors the chaos of Lear’s fractured kingdom. Throughout the centuries, writers have been calling on storms to create mood as well as serving as a metaphor for the key characters and central themes of their stories. Here is how storms function as metaphors in several famous literary works:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: Emotional turmoil
The Segull by Anton Chekhov: Change
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad: Disorder
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: Evil World
Lord of the Flies by William Golding: Violence
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy: Death
The Odyssey by Homer: Turmoil
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: Defeat
King Lear by William Shakespeare: Madness
The Aenid by Virgil: Rage

Read related posts: Random Fascinating Facts About Authors
Random Fascinating Facts About Authors 2

Inventions Predicted by Famous Authors
Sleeping Habits of Famous Authors

For further reading: Infographic Guide to Literature by Joanna Eliot (2014)

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