Does Curly Hair in Literature Symbolize Anything?
Symbolism in literature gives levels of meanings to the characters and encourages readers to gain insight in the themes or characters. Writers use many symbols to convey their message to the readers, and one such symbol seen widespread throughout literature is the use of characters with curly hair.
Curly haired people are usually depicted as being wild, unrestrained, and willing to dismiss the unspoken rules of a society to fulfill their desires. Usually, they are quick-tempered, moody, and not used to things not going their way. A perfect example is that of Mr. Edward Rochester from the novel Jane Eyre. Mr. Rochester is not concerned with what the society may think and what gossip may go around, and he is seen as unconventional. He, therefore, interacts with Jane openly and directly, although she is inferior to him in social class and status. His unrestrained nature is exemplified by the fact that Mr. Rochester tries time and again to persuade Jane into becoming his mistress, tempting her to ignore some of the basic moral principles.
Dominant and competitive are also some of the traits that are associated with curly hair. It is seen as a symbol of manliness, as exemplified by the depiction of Alexander the Great having curly hair. Often men dominate through their physical power and conquer the hearts of women through their valor, social power, and charming looks. Moreover, just like Alexander the Great, characters with curly hair are often shown to be courageous and possessing excellent leadership skills.
Another character that fulfills the symbolism associated with curly hair is Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. Hermione is courageous, as she bravely stepped in and exonerated Harry and Ron by taking the blame herself after they had saved her from the troll on Halloween. She had brilliant academic intelligence, was always the first to answer questions posed by Hogwarts professors in class, and received ten O.W.L.s (outstanding performance in the Harry Potter magical world).
These points clearly elucidate the symbolism behind the use of curly hair in literature. However, many times the writer may use curly haired characters as was typical in the historical period.
Shmoop Editorial Team. “Mr. Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008, www.shmoop.com/jane-eyre/mr-rochester.html.
“Symbolism – Examples and Definition of Symbolism.” Literary Devices, 3 Sept. 2017, www.literarydevices.net/symbolism/.
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