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Proposal Essay, 3 pages (550 words)

Reading response(1:allegory)& (2:forward)

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Reading Response: Allegory I found this reading interesting because it made me reflect on the difference between symbolism and allegory. I had not fully understood that symbols have their origins in visual reality but this does make sense to me. I think also that symbols have different meanings according to the culture that they appear in. This means that for example a very bright shade of red signifies good luck in China but it signifies love or perhaps fire in Western countries. The same object can therefore symbolise different things depending on the context.
The concept of allegory is one that I find very appropriate for works of art, even though it usually is linked to verbal art forms like myths and stories. With some kinds of art it is possible to tell a story without using words, but just by placing images in a space and allowing the viewer to follow a direction from left to right (or right to left in Arabic speaking countries, and top to bottom in Japanese or Chinese countries). This shows progression along a time line, and indeed some religious images in Western Churches were used in the Middle Ages to educate people about stories in the Bible since most people were not able to read. I wonder if cartoons and video game characters are a modern version of personification. I see so many images which resemble monsters like vampires and devils that remind me of ancient battles between good and evil. Maybe it is time to create allegorical new characters which personify the modern day struggles between capitalist greed and environmentalism, for example, or the wealth of the northern hemisphere and the poverty of the south.

Reading Response: Foreword
This reading made me think of the different kinds of female figure that have an allegorical function in the modern world. I think that many of the ones mentioned in this reading, such as the female images on buildings and on stamps or coins, do not play a very big role in the consciousness of modern people. Most of the time they are just part of the background and people do not notice them or think about them. The Statue of Liberty is an interesting example because it is often used to refer to the ideas and values that go together to make up modern American culture. When people used to go to America by sea, it would be the first image that they would encounter, and so it has a special role in folk memory as a kind of welcoming mother-figure, showing the way to the American dream of prosperity and freedom from all the troubles that people had left behind in their previous countries.
My own feeling about allegorical female figures is that I do not much like the traditional Christian Madonna images, or all of the Western portraits of women that derive from this tradition. I find them too simplistic in their depiction of an absolute moral standard which most people cannot hope to reach. I prefer the more complex female figures of Classical Greece because they have weaknesses, like the curiosity of Psyche, or a magnetic and evil power, like the Medusa. Paradoxically these goddesses are more human, and they offer a broader spectrum of meaning to an artist. This makes them much more interesting because they can be used in many creative ways to make people think deeply about life and the moral dilemmas that everyone has to face.

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