Symbolism In Pillars of the Earth Essay

Symbolism In Pillars of the Earth Essay

Length: 727 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

As most proficient authors are aware, the process of developing themes within a work of literature is one of the most important duties of a writer. Authors have numerous methods available to them for this task, including devices such as symbolism. Ken Follett, author of The Pillars of the Earth, uses symbolism frequently throughout his novel (which is set in 12th century England and follows the dramatic events surrounding the construction of a cathedral). Follett employs several symbols, including the cathedral, the English monarchy, and fire, to aid him in conveying themes concerning the power of faith in achieving one’s goals.
The most prominent symbol in Follett’s masterpiece is the cathedral itself. It is the centerpiece of the entire plot, and also, quite literally, the vital center of the town of Kingsbridge. The building of the vast church binds the citizens together because all of their fates are tied to the effort of accomplishing such a huge project. With the existence of a cathedral, the town also benefits economically because of the increased numbers of religious pilgrims and inevitable attempts to cater to their material demands. The attitude toward the completion of the cathedral is the sole defining factor of a character’s role in the novel. The passion involved in the process of building the church is best expressed in Ellen’s plea for her son, Jack, to be allowed to continue working on it: “… the challenge of that cast church has got into his blood. He’ll go wherever someone is building a cathedral. He’ll go to Jerusalem if there’s stone there to be carved into angels and devils” (573). Because this cathedral is so incredibly significant to the townspeople, it comes to symbolize all of their hopes, dreams, and a...


... middle of paper ...


... the wool business, leading her to Kingsbridge and her future lover, Jack; Tom Builder is rescued from unemployment and starvation, and Kingsbridge gets a stunning new cathedral; and the town learns how to defend itself in the future. As Tom Builder put it, “It was not the devil who sent a master builder here on the night the church burned down” (252). In this manner, another theme is revealed: through perseverance, one can overcome nearly any obstacle, no matter how bleak it may seem.
These three symbols, the cathedral, the monarchy, and fire, serve to illustrate multiple themes in Pillars of the Earth about having faith and accomplishing one’s dreams. In a book as lengthy as this one, the author must use some device to tie the events together and express his purpose. Follett accomplishes this beautifully by harnessing the power of symbolism in literature.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Five Pillars Of Islam Essay

- The Five Pillars of Islam "La ilaha ila Allah; Muhammadur-rasul Allah," There is no god but Allah; Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of Allah. This essential phrase in Islam is termed "Shahadah" which literally means "to witness" and is the first pillar of Islam. Any Muslim or any individual that wants to convert to Islam must recite and more importantly, must truly believe this statement. It is the first words that are heard through the ears of a newborn, and is stressed from thereon as soon as an individual is capable of rationale....   [tags: Religion Islam Muslim]

Better Essays
1996 words (5.7 pages)

The Pillars Of Islam And Christianity Essay

- ... The fifth pillar is Hajj. This is the pilgrimage to Mekkah, which every Muslim tries to make at least once in their lifetime. Unlike Islam, Christianity does not have these set patterns of worship in their life, except Catholics do have the Seven Sacraments, as well as the Protestants believing in only two of those sacraments, baptism and confirmation. Just as prayer is an important part of Islamic life, it is also relevant in Christian life. Many Christians say a prayer of thanksgiving at meal times, known as grace....   [tags: Islam, Five Pillars of Islam, Allah]

Better Essays
741 words (2.1 pages)

Symbolism And Glory Of The Imam Essay

- ... Therefore, dev prakāshiyā means the Lord or Satguru is manifest on the face of earth or, as discussed in verse ten of this composition, the Nūr or Divine Light is manifest in the Person of the Imam on this earth. The mention of nav kha(n)ḍ implies the universality of the Nūr, as attested by the Holy Qur’an: “O mankind. verily there hath come to you a convincing proof from your Lord: For We have sent unto you a light (that is) manifest.” “And the earth shineth with the light of her Lord…” Accordingly, the last line contends that just as the rising of the sūr or sun, every parbhāt or morning is a certain and regular occurrence, likewise, the presence of the Imam on the face of th...   [tags: Sun, Light, Earth, Planet]

Better Essays
1098 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on Samson and the Pillars of our Faith

- The strongest man to walk the earth was now a symbol of fallen humanity. Once a pillar of power and strength, he now stands weak and helpless. Once a pillar of wisdom and justice, he now stands as a testimony of human ignorance and pride. Once a symbol of freedom, he now stands chained to his failed passions. Once a symbolic pillar of humanity working with the divine, he now stands as an example of the brokenness that results when we no longer put our faith and trust in God. Samson was a pillar of God’s grace and power as long as he remained fixed on God....   [tags: Christianity]

Better Essays
1214 words (3.5 pages)

The Waste Of The Earth Essay

- The stuff from factory productions to people’s trash accumulation is destroying the planet earth at an alarming rate. Meaning that people are stripping the earth of its natural resources to mass produce products which is bought by consumers only to be disposed of quickly and either dump in a landfill or burnt up in an incinerator while the government stands by encouraging it to happen even quicker. Therefore, the earth is not able to keep pace with the stripping of it natural resources and will not be able to sustain human life at the velocity today’s society is consuming....   [tags: Earth, World, Natural resource, Planet]

Better Essays
1238 words (3.5 pages)

The Significance of the Earth in The Good Earth Essay

- The Significance of the Earth in The Good Earth "And O-lan in the house was not idle. With her own hands she lashed the mats to the rafters and took earth from the fields and mixed it with water and mended the walls of the house, and she built again the oven and filled the holes in the floor that the rain had washed." There can be no doubt that the symbol of earth in Buck's novel, The Good Earth, is one so potent that it permeates and binds the entire tale. It is presented repeatedly throughout the novel, either through gentle allusion or outright statement....   [tags: The Good Earth]

Free Essays
451 words (1.3 pages)

Pillars of Salt, A Woman of Five Seasons and A Balcony Over the Fakihani

- Pillars of Salt, A Woman of Five Seasons and A Balcony Over the Fakihani missing works cited “Maha, sister, my life is like candy-floss; fluffy and full from the outside, empty like this damned hospital room from the inside. And they called the candy-floss ‘girls-curls.’ It was like my life. A girl’s life. A fluffy lie for half a piaster. Ya-la-la.” (Faqir, 19) To many eyes, the women’s liberation movement in the Middle East is nothing more than a mere façade. The solidification of women’s rights in writing means very little when actually put into play, women still continue to be trampled on in all walks of life, behind closed doors and tinted windows....   [tags: Pillars Salt Seasons Balcony Fakihani Papers]

Free Essays
3145 words (9 pages)

Free Essays - A Difference in Values in The Good Earth

- A Difference in Values The House of Wang Lung rose in one generation from a family of poor farmers to a wealthy respected house in the novel The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. The dramatic change in social status causes the sons of Wang Lung to have different views and values from their father. His different treatment of each son also shapes each character. Although part of the same family the charachters demonstrate a difference in values. The father values the land, the youngest son values regognition, the middle son values wealth, and the eldest son values respect....   [tags: Earth]

Free Essays
1055 words (3 pages)

Motion of the Earth Essays

- The Earth spins around an axis. The Earth takes (a bit more than) one day to go around once. This axis is pointing off somewhere in space. This axis (mostly) doesn’t move. At the same time, the Earth is orbiting the Sun. It takes (a bit more than) one year to go around once. The plane of the Earth’s orbit (mostly) doesn’t move. The spin axis of the Earth’s daily rotation is not perpendicular to the plane of the Earth’s orbit.It is tilted (approximately) 23.4 degrees. The angle of tilt (mostly) doesn’t change....   [tags: physics earth spin]

Free Essays
542 words (1.5 pages)

A Better Earth Essay example

- The patient's condition is serious. Symptoms are multiple. His health is noxious. He has a fever, higher than ever before. Efforts to bring it down are not working. Poison has been found in body fluids. When symptoms are treated in one area, more pop up in other areas. If this were a usual patient, doctors would be inclined to declare the multiple sicknesses as chronic and terminal. Not knowing what else to do, they would just take steps to make the patient as comfortable as possible until the end came....   [tags: Earth Science]

Better Essays
4699 words (13.4 pages)