Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    The 2de74d 2130342 9790.jpg

    Now they're trying to come up with meanings for Beatles songs. I never understood what any of them were about, myself...


    Memories of that overzealous English teacher, who forced you to accept that every character, every scene and every action had a deep inner meaning have led to widespread fear on the part of readers and viewers everywhere that every tale secretly contains some other story being told in Subtext.

    The end result of this is a state of mind that, for example, interprets every plot as an allegory for the rebuilding of one's soul, every setting as a manifestation of purgatory, and every protagonist as a stand-in for the Christ: Everyone Is Jesus In Purgatory!

    Rampant paranoia results from this state; one cannot look at anything without being suspicious that this is some kind of allegory brainwashing you into learning An Aesop against your will. Is that box of Corntos one character is handing another a mere confection or is it a blessing from On High, manna sent from a merciful God? Or wait... it could be a Deal with the Devil; short-term pleasure resulting in permanent bodily ruination! What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic? And thus the Epileptic Trees are planted.

    The concept of "the Death of the Author" hasn't particularly helped this state of affairs, either, as it allows everyone to insist that their pet theories are entirely valid (with or without justification), regardless of how many times the author of the text clearly states his or her intentions in writing the work, or, as in many cases, that the pet theory absolutely isn't the state of affairs at all. Of course the author him/herself can decide the works means different (even contradictory) things, so Word of God isn't always reliable. If there are multiple authors, it's perfectly possible for them to disagree on what the work means, and so... well, in those cases, whoever came up with the concept of "Death of the Author" has a very good point. This is also what literary Post Modernism is about, what with the Death of the Author and all.

    The Mind Screw series loves this state of mind. It cultivates it intentionally, and takes advantage of it every chance it gets.

    Ursula K. Le Guin's famous "gerbil" rant was about this: "In many college English courses the words myth and symbol are given a tremendous charge of significance. You just ain't no good unless you can see a symbol hiding, like a scared gerbil, under every page. And in many creative writing courses the little beasts multiply, the place swarms with them. What does this Mean? What does that Symbolize? What is the Underlying Mythos? Kids come lurching out of such courses with a brain full of gerbils. And they sit down and write a lot of empty pomposity, under the impression that that's how Melville did it."

    This often arises from the improper conflation of symbolism (which doesn't imply a one-to-one correspondence and doesn't need to have one and only one meaning that can be stated in a simple declarative sentence) and allegory (which implies a one-to-one correspondence and a stated specific meaning).

    See Freud Was Right, What Do You Mean It's Not Political?, and Wild Mass Guessing if you really want to blow your mind. Compare Messianic Archetype for characters with more obvious parallels to a Christ figure. Not to be confused with Everyone Is Satan in Hell, especially relevant that it is not confused due to the popularity of "everyone is Dante in hell" as an alternate form of this.

    Compare Faux Symbolism. Contrast Rule of Symbolism.

    Examples of Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Casshern Sins: Casshern is Satan but good. Luna is Jesus but evil.
    • Shortly after its release, many began suspecting that Code Geass's Britannian Empire and its resource-grubbing expansionism was meant to be a thinly veiled potshot at America and the War on Terror, to the point where some began calling for a boycott of the show's eventual US release. In an interview near the end of the first season, director/co-creator Goro Taniguchi stated (paraphrased): "I know some people put political messages in their works, but that wasn't my intent. I just wanted to tell an entertaining story."
      • This is actually the case, as the series is based on a universe in which the Britannian empire started in 60 B.C. and therefore "America" remained a part of Britannia, which continued to expand its empire. The series takes place in the 1940s common time, and the only reason the Britannian capital is in America is due to a revolt that happened in England, which forced them to move the capital to America. If it's to be a representation of anything, it is of the western expansion, using England as the central figure in this representation.
    • FLCL has enough confusing symbolism to fall into this, but it also features an in-story example that doubles as Self-Deprecation for Gainax. In episode 2, Kamon is rambling about having a robot in their house, and Naota explains to Haruko that his father "once wrote a book on the deep mysteries of Eva."
    • Many Fullmetal Alchemist fans believe that the religion of Ishval was based off modern Islam, due to the Ishballans' dark skin and the Arabian Nights-esque setting they lived in. Hiromu Arakawa (the creator of the manga) has stated that she based it off of the Ainu, an ethnic group that were driven from Honshu and live on Hokkaido, where Arakawa was born. A similar theory is that Ishval was based off of Ishvara, a hindu concept of monotheism. And of course there's the Ishval Massacre......
      • On the other hand, the screenwriter for the anime has, according to this column, admitted that the war themes explored in the anime were meant as a commentary on America's participation in the Vietnam and Iraq wars. The Ishvalan civilians represented the natives of these countries, caught in the middle.
        • And for added flavour, Arakawa comments on the sleeve of volume 15 of the manga that she talked with plenty of Japanese WW 2 veterans for the Ishvalian flashbacks. The idea would seem to be: it's a commentary on the persecution of minority communities, especially by militarized governments with empires.
        • The paper Edward is given when he gets into the army praises the British army...
    • Haibane Renmei was pretty much made to induce this kind of thing. Though they take a lot of the fun out by making the 'purgatory' part so literal and obvious. That aside, Yoshitoshi ABe also doesn't seem to be much of a fan of the Word of God approach, encouraging viewers to come to their own conclusions about the specifics of the symbolism.
    • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Furude Hanyu? Jesus in Purgatory. Or, rather, Jesus in samsara. What happens if God needs forgiveness too? Is a partly-human, self-sacrificial deity really that much better than the blood-thirsty gods of old, or does that just create new problems? What if no one even realizes there's been a change? (Then again, it could just be a show about psychotic lolis.)
    • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Although, that was really the point; see the bit about the Mind Screw above.
    • One Piece has spawned a good example of this trope:

    Franky was born a carpenter, the 'son of a pirate', we never actually see his father, who is a nonentity in his life. He builds ships to destroy sea monsters, representing mankind's sins in their desire for progress. These ships also represent those created to serve him, i.e. the apostles. Naturally, a strong authority: Marines vs Romans, causes betrayal among the apostles, and Tom dies, who represents Franky's human aspects. Afterward, Franky dies through martyrdom. (Struck by a train is similar to cruxifiction if you think about it) and disappears for a length of time, after which he rises from the dead better then ever.

    • This analysis of Pokémon is very cruel, but also very clever.
    • Pretty Cure fans are usually kidding when they invoke this—nobody really believes that Mika's introductory episode was intended as a condemnation of the tendency of news media to focus on celebrities at the expense of more important issues, or that the costume designs in Yes! Pretty Cure 5 symbolize the public school system draining children of their creativity and individuality.
    • Revolutionary Girl Utena seems to attract this like flies and naturally, massive Internet Backdraft erupts when people try to discuss what it's an allegory for.
      • Though most fans agree that a rough 90% of the symbolism is about penises.
    • Serial Experiments Lain. Even the creators can't agree on what all of it means. Pro-technology manifesto? Massive religious allegory? Treatise on the negative influences of Western culture on Japanese society? You decide; the Word of God isn't going to help here.
      • Word of God was specifically "I want this to mean something completely different to the Japanese audience than the American audience, to spark a dialog and debate of the ideas." The fact that the Wild Mass Guessing on both sides of the Pacific were diverse and insane in pretty much the same ways was actually called a disappointment.
    • This evaluation of Bottle Fairy.
    • Tenchi Muyo!: Anybody who was part of the (in)famous Tenchi FF mailing list at the proper time will remember one Mr. Grey, who argued that Tenchi Muyo! was all an allegory for an obscure form of Zen Taoism. According to Grey, Ryoko and Ayeka were each half a universe, Ryoko represented the Altruist, and Tenchi represented the goat.
    • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Kamina Died For Your Sins.
      • It also has some fans believing Simon is a Christ analogue. Why? Because the anglicized pronunciation of his name, despite there being no plot indicators for Simon being a Christ figure.
        • ACTUALLY... There IS some amount of bible allegory, not to go into mass detail but the long-short is that Kamina is the Old Testament "fire and brimstone" God who dies giving way to Simon who is the new testament loving jesus god, who then gathers to him the disciples. Rosseu is Judas, the anti-spirals are the Anti Christ and the last story arc is the second coming. Simon is even martyred for the sins of his followers.
    • Texhnolyze is set in the underground city of Lux/Lukuss, has episodes named "Heavenward" and "Hades", and eventually suggests that Lux was created as a sort of physical purgatory. The show also features a Mind Screw ending, though in general it's one of the more literal examples of this trope.
    • Trigun. Vash is Jesus. Gunsmoke is Purgatory. Knives is Satan, or possibly just an embodiment of evil. Wolfwood is Judas. Meryl and Millie are angels. Legato is the serpent from the Garden of Eden. Rem is... Mary? Some of those are debatable, but the first two are pretty much set in stone. Nightow was actually so blatant with them they're very nearly text instead of subtext.
      • But Knives and Vash could also be Cain and Abel.
      • Don't forget that all the plants are angels! Plus Creepy Cool Crosses.
    • In Death Note, L is shown to be a Jesus figure.
    • Rozen Maiden. Rozen is the immortal creator of the Rozen Maidens, bestowing upon them Rosa Mysticas (souls). His face is never shown, and he is consistently bathed in white light when he is. (In other words, they couldn't make it any more obvious that he is God-like if they tried.) He disapears as soon as he makes the seven maidens, telling his creations that they have to kill each other until one remains to become the perfect girl-Alice.
    • Puella Magi Madoka Magica, especially due to the Faustian overtones. Let's see... self-sacrificial Holy Child who disappears to save humanity from despair, a girl who makes a Deal with the Devil in order to save her best friend from damnation, a Weasel Mascot and Eldritch Abomination in disguise who regularly promises a wish in exchange for their souls and eventual damnation, also coupled by the fact that the finale showed on Good Friday, of all days.


    • Just try to even see the "True Art" tropes.
    • Art historian Roger Kimball points out several Egregious examples from his own field of expertise in his book The Rape of the Masters.

    Comic Books

    • Superman is Jesus. Full stop.
      • Or maybe Moses. (Both his creators were Jewish.)
    • Any story involving a Masquerade and Puberty Superpower can be interpreted as a metaphor for the awakening of a young homosexual if one looks close enough. Then again, some series deliberately play this up. More frequently, such series are often interpreted as allegories for puberty in general.
      • X-men has become even more blatant with this, since they've just moved to San Francisco, and now live in a big, phallic tower. There seem to be anti-mutant hate-crimes going on, as a result of the team declaring the city a safe haven. The first person attacked happened to be leaving a nightclub, and has pink hair, a smallish frame, and insect-like wings. Yes, that's right, she's basically a fairy.
      • X-men has also been seen as a Allegory about racism in addition to homophobia, the latter being picked up on by director Bryan Singer and integrated into his first two films based on the franchise.
        • Marvel mutants in general have the recurring themes of puberty and passage into adulthood, from the very beginning of X-Men and reviving with New Mutants, and even though now there are far more veteran X-Men, it keeps coming back each new crop of 'Gifted Youngsters'. Part of growing through teenhood is coping with a feeling of being dreadfully different, or perceived different, and persecuted; racism and homophobia themes naturally grow out of that, as example of persecution from being different that more people could identify with. So while it's grown to encompass broader social issues, and it's perfectly compatible with them, the mutant's dilemma was intended to be examined as a personal one.
        • Naturally these stories have a subtext of "diffrent but special," making the superpowered individuals feared or even hated, which perhaps due to ego is why many people who feel they are persecuted in their lives cling to this type of story. It changes from just, "they hate me becuase I'm different" to, "they hate me becuase I'm special, they hate me becuase they're jealous."
        • X-Men originated as an allegory for the Civil Rights movement, with Professor X and Magneto as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
    • Parodied in Mad Magazine`s parody of Watchmen, where Big Figure and his goons attempt to work out what's going to happen next by analyzing the comic's 'direct, concomitant parallelisms' as pertaining to an owl mask on a previous page. They come up with lots of deep, meaningful suggestions, but are cut off by Nite Owl's Owlship crashing through the wall.
    • Maybe the Punisher isn't a fascist, and just wants every single murderer and rapist to die.
    • Pretty much anything written by Grant Morrison.
      • That's just what they want you to think.
    • Somebody came up with the idea that the Fantastic Four represent the four elements (Thing is Earth, Invisible Woman is Air, Human Torch is Fire (duh), and Mr. Fantastic is Water). This sounds like something that was developed retroactively. Stan Lee, of course, has no problem with being labeled a genius, so he hasn't discouraged this. Lampshaded in the "Ultimate" version.
      • When John Byrne took over the title in the 80s, one of his first issues features the Four fighting four elementals, who were ordered not to face their counterparts, thus making the mapping explicit. Neil Gaiman later took advantage of the scheme for his 1602 version of the Fantastic Four.
    • Deadpool is everyone in Purgatory!
    • Superheroes and Sex: The Art and Innuendo of Batwoman.
    • Peter David and David Lopez's Fallen Angel.
    • Thanks to the Omega Sanction, Everyone is Bruce Wayne!
    • Bruce Banner's hatred of his Incredible Hulk persona represents a gay man's attempt to avoid mainstream masculinization. (The Banner=gay, Hulk=straight mapping is very hard to unsee in the original Lee/Kirby stories.)


    • At least one person believes that Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was evidence that the moon landings were faked.
      • A 1987 San Francisco Chronicle article made the case that it was a metaphorical commentary about the genocide of Native Americans.
        • Take your pick: it was a lament for the clear political demarcation of the Cold War, a metaphorical study of the Holocaust, a pontification on mankind's predilection for violence through the ages, or a commentary on the breakdown of the family, the crisis of masculinity, the state of modern America and its ideologies, sex­ism, racism, or the dominance of big business. This film, due to its open-endedness, seems to exist as a Rorschach test for most commentators.
    • Literature-to-film example: during pre-production for the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Marilyn Manson expressed interest in playing the role of Willy Wonka, and outlined his theory that Wonka was actually Satan, tempting and leading the damned souls (the children) into Hell. Of course, to be fair to him, the original novel was written by Roald Dahl, so he might have had a point.
      • Compare Charlie & The Chocolate Factory to Dante's Inferno.
      • It's probably best to not look for meaning in the first movie: there's at least two fairly well-hidden and obscure references to the Nazis. In the sweet shop set for the "Candy Man" song the word "Schicklgruber" (Hitler's grandmother's maiden name) is visible on the wall. Later, the fraudulent claimant of the fifth Golden Ticket is "Alberto Minoleta" of Paraguay, a pseudonym used by Party Minister Martin Bormann whilst on the lam in that country. The photo of "Alberto Minoleta" shown is actually one of Bormann.
    • David Lynch actually encourages people to come up with their own theories on Eraserhead. The Lady in the Radiator is frequently interpreted as Death, Henry is the everyman, and the Man in the Planet is either Satan or God. But nobody can agree what the Baby is.
      • His Penis...it's clearly his penis.
      • The trope applies to basically everything Lynch has ever made, particularly Rabbits, a sitcom-parody involving three actors wearing rabbit heads hanging out in what may very well be purgatory.
    • Donnie Darko is almost invariably never interpreted the same way by any two people, with interpretations going all over the allegorical scale.
      • Which is especially hilarious because Writer/Director Richard Kelly has stated that he didn't create the movie with any particular allegories or "depth" intended, and that (to him) it's just a science fiction movie, plain and simple. Naturally, the creators specifically telling people they're wrong has never stopped fandom before.
      • The film seemed to be jumping around between multiple themes, which might explain the confusion.
    • Pulp Fiction possesses several plot points that are subject to this; one revolves around the mysterious glowing contents of Marcellus Wallace's briefcase that are never explained (with one popular theory being that it is, in fact, Wallace's soul, which he bought back from Mr. S. That or it's gold.), and another being the reason for a band-aid that is prominently displayed on Wallace's bald head as it is filmed from the back. The first is merely a plot MacGuffin that Tarantino never bothered to explain (although, granted, one which is open to some interpretation); the second is merely a result of actor Ving Rhames (who played Wallace) cutting the back of his head whilst shaving it and requiring a band-aid to stop the bleeding.
      • But face it, it's cooler if you give it cosmic overtones.
      • Tarantino's official response about the briefcase was a fairly lackluster "whatever the audience wants it to be."
      • For the record, it was originally supposed to be the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs, but Tarantino decided to leave it deliberately ambiguous for the sake of this type of discussion.
    • Because it starred a black protagonist, quite rare for the 1960's, Night of the Living Dead was—and still is—lauded for its metaphorical depiction of race and the Civil Rights movement in America. Funny part is, George Romero didn't intend to include such a message at all; he had previously stated that he cast Duane Jones simply because he gave the best audition.
    • This link discusses how Goldfinger had subtext involving the Oedipus Complex.
    • The final scene of (fittingly enough) Jesus Christ Superstar, the film, shows a shepherd walking through the desert. Some thought it was supposed to symbolize Jesus's resurrection, which was not itself featured with the movie (and the play it was based on). However, it was not one of the actors but a real shepherd, who just happened to walk by when the crew was filming, and they decided to leave him in.
    • Remember when Happy Feet came out and there were arguments by certain social commentators that it promoted the gay agenda to children? All because the main character—an anthropomorphic CGI penguin—is a tap dancer who encounters resistance from his father, telling him at one point, "You have to accept me for who I am!". Apparently the commentators didn't realize that this classic story is at least Older Than Television.
    • The book Citizen Spielberg attacks the portrayal of women in the Indiana Jones films. This, of course, is only too easy to do with Willie Scott and Elsa Schneider. What about Marion? Well, we're told she started off the film wearing pants before committing the terrible crime of putting on a pretty dress, which apparently represents her "growing vulnerability and emerging sexuality". Oh, and the scene where she conks a guy on the head with a frying pan? That's apparently symbolic of her taking on the domestic duties of the female gender role.
      • She might actually fit when you realize that Lucas and Spielberg apparently came up with backstory (never mentioned in the movies) wherein her prior affair with Indy took place when she was 12, and he was in his 20's. Aside from the squick value inherent in that, a woman who spends her entire life more or less pining over someone who statutory raped her when she was 12 fits quite well with the other two (if not trumping them) in terms of poorly-written women.
        • Considering that both Lucas' and Spielberg's films are packed with daddy issues, this would not be surprising in the least.
    • Guillermo del Toro wrote Pans Labyrinth as a straightforward fairy tale that happened to be set during the Spanish Civil War. Not only do many viewers immediately assume the supernatural elements are all hallucinations, but there are plenty of theories as to what the story is an allegory for.
    • Need a really good laugh? Then read this review of Red Zone Cuba and keep in mind that the author is praising the artistry found in the rich, sociopolitical symbolism of a Coleman Freakin' Francis movie.
    • Roy Batty in Blade Runner is rather Christlike, in that he saves Deckard in the end. If so, he's a very Gnostic Christ, with Tyrell as a fallible and imperfect God.
      • It needs to be pointed out that Deckard is saved from death by Roy Batty's bloody, nail-pierced hand. And that after Deckard is safe from danger, Batty "gives up his spirit" by letting go of the white dove he's been clutching. Say what you will about professors over-analyzing for symbolism, but this film's Jesus Christ posing is rather obvious and intentional, so consider also Messianic Archetype.
    • Signs' initially rage-inducing ending is arguably improved by this sort of interpretation. Consider for a moment that water per se is never explicitly stated to be the invaders' Achilles' Heel - a television newscast on the subject only refers to something along the lines of "an esoteric method discovered in the Middle East," the birthplace of the major Abrahamic religions. Moreover, the only water that is actually shown to harm the invaders has been handled by a priest, and is only effective after he begins to resolve his crisis of faith. That would tend to suggest that the "aliens" in question are, in fact, demons (which makes the whole "creeping around in the shadows and screwing with people instead of death-raying the entire planet" thing a lot more reasonable), and are subdued by holy water and (presumably) similar religious articles. The considerable volumes of work in which folklorists draw numerous parallels between the superstitions of antiquity and the modern UFO phenomenon don't exactly hurt this interpretation either. Intentional or not, it at least makes the movie seem less stupid.
      • That would make it seem less stupid if that were how holy water worked.
    • The short film Pencil Face. Just read the comments to witness this trope in full force.
    • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is just a mindless action movie... or is it? This article brutally rips on both this trope and the movie.
    • Bill Murray's Groundhog Day stands as Hollywood's sole Buddhist message movie. As Phil (short for 'philosopher', obviously, a common name for the Buddha), Murray eventually realizes what takes many lifetimes to understand; namely, that every cycle of birth-death-rebirth (every 'day') is always the same, over and over, depressing, painful, and bound by karma (i.e.- how you've treated others in the past), until you awaken and make a conscious choice to change that destiny. It's interesting that Phil takes the Tantric path, initially using the opportunity of being 'reborn' every morning to simply fulfill all desires, and therefore, to ultimately purge himself of them. Still, over who knows how many 'days' -- how many lifetimes of days—he eventually comes to see the connectedness of all things, the sacredness of all life, and the joy to be found in knowledge, wisdom, and simply making a difference in the lives of others. By his own effort, and even against his own initial nature, over many lifetimes he achieves Enlightenment, and is able to move on. Plus, that scene where he lets the groundhog drive the truck is freakin hilarious. On the note of "who knows how many 'days,'" Word of God is that Phil relived that same day for ten years. He was only saved when he finally falls asleep with the one virtuous girl on his bed on the "first" day. Deep Aesop, right there.
    • Is Ferris really just Cameron's subconscious forcing him to become the independent and self-assured man he needs to be? Some believe it to be so.
    • If... is a favorite example for people who feel plagued by pretentious movie criticism. Possibly due to the film's anti-establishment themes, a lot of critics at the time were eager to show that they "got it" and came up with various symbolic meanings for its switching between color and monochrome. In fact it was just a low-budget project and they couldn't afford to do the whole thing in color.
    • You could potentially read read way too much into Quentin Tarantino films if you wanted to. For example, Oliver Stone basically did this with the script of Natural Born Killers by turning it into a commentary on the mass media. And Inglourious Basterds arguably implies that the basterds' sentiments towards the Nazis (and thus the sentiments of the audience that glorifies the basterds) are Not So Different from the Nazis' sentiments towards the Jews and are similarly contemptible. Of course since 95% of everything Tarantino does is based on the Rule of Cool you're probably just reading too much into it.
      • Tarantino has even gone on record in support of The Death Of The Author, stating that his works aren't necessarily about what he thought they were about when he wrote them.
      • Quoting Tarantino from memory: "If 100 million people see my movie, I want them to be seeing 100 million different movies."
    • Twilight: New Moon -- a heroic account of schizophrenia and delusional narcissism. It's probably mockery, but it makes a staggering amount of sense, Take Thats aside.
    • Literally true in the case of the western Purgatory, in that the title town contains a number of wild west legends, all seeking redemption.
    • The more popular theories behind Toy Story 3 are that the film explores the Living Toys version of damn near every kind of afterlife imaginable, including Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Limbo, The Nothing After Death, Reincarnation, Warrior Heaven, Ironic Hell... it's like they didn't want to leave anyone out.
    • Quentin Tarantino has even put his theory of King Kong into film. In Inglourious Basterds during the card game scene, Major Hellstrom is trying to figure out that he is the beast and goes through the questions to find out that he is from the jungle and was brought to America in chains for others' benefit. Does This Remind You of Anything? Quentin Tarantino personally believes that King Kong was meant as an allegory for the slaves being brought to America, if you didn't catch it.
      • Does he actually believe it, or did he hear somebody else talking about it, and decide to make a joke out of it?
        • Can't say if QT belives it or not, but it's a rather common interpretation of the film. Merian C. Cooper, on the other hand, disagrees, saying his only intention was to make the ultimate monster movie.
    • Fans of the movie version of Sin City often wondered if the three protagonists were one and the same. Marv was the real character with John Hartigan as his Author Avatar made up by his own delusions while in a near-death experience. Dwight is Marv "with a new face" after faking his death. A lot of this came about because much of Dwight's backstory was alluded to but not explained (his story was essentially a sequel to his Origin Story from the comics). Comic fans explained that these were, indeed three seperate characters that were featured in different stories published years apart and in a different order.
    • In-universe example: The film Being There has Peter Sellers playing a simpleton who talks about gardening and various mundane subjects yet prompts all those around him—including important political figures—to regard him as a genius who speaks constantly in profound metaphors.
    • Apparently, even 2girls1cup isn’t safe from this trope.
    • Tron: Legacy might as well be called Gnosticism: the Movie. Finding something that isn't capable of being read as symbolic of gnostic philosophy!


    • The Catcher in The Rye can be seen as an agenda for just about anything, but it's really a Coming of Age Story. In the work itself, Holden sees hidden symbolism in the title song, where he thinks it's about adolescence.
    • Several Voyages to Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver, aka Gulliver's Travels. It is difficult to find a line in this book that isn't either a critique on culture or humanity or a metaphor for a specific event. This, of course, means that even the exceptions tend to get a lot of critique trying to figure out their symbolism.
    • Pick a sonnet sequence, any sonnet sequence, and the symbolism will be very heavy, if usually a bit more obvious than certain cryptic writers, but you won't get most of it unless you know something about the history of sonnets, as everything after Dante's Beatrice and Petrarch's Rhyme Sparse is ultimately a response to these and other sonnet sequences. It gets confusing fast.
      • And people like Spenser insist on making the numbers of the sonnets tell you all kinds of information, and people (well, English critics) argue constantly over whether or not various sonnets sequences have important numerology, to the point where the actual content starts getting looked over.
      • It really doesn't help that part of the whole response to other Sonnets factor is showing how much more clever you are than previous writers (you know, like Petrarch throwing in special rhymes besides Sonnets, and later writers making up their own ever more complicated rhyme schemes to show off).
    • Pretty much every English teacher in the world insists that Robert Frost's poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is about suicide and/or a longing for death, despite the fact that Frost stated publicly and often that it was just a poem about a guy who is enjoying looking at the snowy woods and didn't have any deeper symbolic meaning.
    • Things Fall Apart. In one scene, it is noted that the white colonists arrived at about the same time as did the swarm of locusts which would be eaten by the African characters during that season. Thus, the obvious conclusion (supported by Cliffs Notes), is that the locusts symbolize the colonists—seemingly a good thing, but ultimately destructive. However, there is never a scene where the locusts are destructive, and they were simply intended to be edible locusts.
    • In one of his books, I Have Landed, Stephen Jay Gould discussed how many critics thought there was a symbolic meaning to the references to butterflies in Vladimir Nabokov's novels. However, the author was an entomologist, and intended no symbolic meaning.
      • It's possible Nabokov did intend a symbolic meaning. When Nabokov gave a lecture on Kafka's Metamorphosis he discussed what kind of insect the main character had transformed into and what significance it had; in particular, that he could have discovered that he had grown wings, hidden under his shell.
        • However, this is probably just Nabokov ridiculing how pointless it is to speculate on something as irrelevant as what species of insect Gregor Samsa was using "scientific" analysis
        • No, this is certainly not Nabokov "ridiculing." His tone is quite serious, and he finds it important which insect Gregor has turned into. He even drew diagrams of what he proposed Gregor looks like.
    • Stationery Voyagers encourages readers to explore the implications; but makes a lot of its symbolism, homages, and Aesops out of Paper Thin Disguises for Real World issues the author loves to rant about. It even challenges the reader to find an original speculation to pursue by taking the Paper Thin Diguise controversial topics and showing what would happen if someone actually tried to take them Up to Eleven.
    • Brazilian writer and "jazz musician" Luis Fernando Verissimo once wrote a essay in which he claimed that the Walrus and the Carpenter from Alice in Wonderland were metaphors for Buddha and Jesus (one being fat, and the other, a carpenter), and the oysters they brainwashed represented the followers of both religions.
      • This claim is put forth by Loki, the exiled Angel of Death, in Dogma, in his attempt to convince a nun that God does not exist.
        • He wins, and tells her to buy herself a nice dress and go find a man...or woman.
      • Notably, the Buddha was not fat. The fat guy is the bodhisattva Butei, the so-called "Laughing Buddha", or may be another deity named Hotei, who is used almost interchangeably. But would Carroll know that?
      • From Wikipedia: "In The Annotated Alice, Martin Gardner noted that when Lewis Carroll gave the manuscript for Through the Looking-Glass to illustrator John Tenniel, he gave him the choice of drawing a carpenter, a butterfly, or a baronet (since each word would fit the poem's meter). Tenniel chose the carpenter. Because of this, the carpenter's significance in the poem is probably not in his profession. Although the two characters of the poem were interpreted later as two political types, there is no indication of what Carroll may have intended; Gardner cautions the reader that there isn't too much intended symbolism in the Alice books; the books were made for the imagination of children, not the analysis of "mad people". (Others have claimed that they're clearly about logic, but the imagination of children part is certainly a nice side dish.)
        • Interestingly, the only reason why Tenniel chose the carpenter is he'd grown accustomed to drawing them for Punch.
      • Okay, that's enough. Listen to Carroll's Duchess from the first book:

    Duchess: There's a moral in everything, if only you can find it.

        • So... she agrees with everything? That if you look hard enough, you'll discover some Aesop or anvil or symbol or... well, everything on this page, essentially.
      • Since Carroll was a deacon, it's unlikely that he intended an indictment of Christianity. However, since he is theorized to have possibly been a pedophile, it may have been a (possibly unconscious) confession, if you interpret the oysters as children.
      • The whole "Carroll was a pedophile" thing has been proven as false since ages ago and has absolutely no basis in fact.
    • The seven Chronicles of Narnia have been claimed to be An Aesop focusing on one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Just goes to show that this trope applies even when there's plenty of actual, valid symbolism, allegory, and "supposition" to choose from. And a book was just published saying that each novel corresponds with one of the seven heavens of the medieval cosmos.
      • CS Lewis has specified how the books compare with Christianity: "The Magician's Nephew tells the Creation and how evil entered Narnia, The Lion etc. -- the Crucifixion and Resurrection, Prince Caspian -- restoration of the true religion after a corruption, The Horse and His Boy -- the calling and conversion of the heathen, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader -- the spiritual life (especially in Reepicheep), The Silver Chair -- the continuing war against the powers of darkness, The Last Battle -- the coming of Antichrist (the ape). The end of the world and the last judgement." (Source)
      • It's safe to say, however, that The Deplorable Word of The Magician's Nephew is a nuclear metaphor, as Aslan says that humans are working on weapons just as dangerous. And that Earth will soon have rulers just as disinterested in human life as Jadis. This is pretty overt. Word of God confirms.
    • The Greek poet and Literature Nobel Prize winner Odysseas Elytis once attended a celebration in his honor, where samples of his work were read and then had their meaning analyzed in detail by distinguished scholars. When his turn came to speak and thank everybody, he put his tongue in his cheek and gave special credit to the scholars for finding more depth to his poetry than even he had thought of.
    • Despite what every English teacher (and Bradbury himself, when he wrote the book) has said, Ray Bradbury now claims that Fahrenheit 451 is in fact not about censorship, but about how TV makes you stupid and less likely to read.
      • Which is ironic, as one of the characters in the book explicitly states that television does not make you stupid, and is merely a convenient way to keep the already stupid masses entertained.
      • Bradbury has said different things at different times. He has said censorship is a theme in the book in one edition's coda. At one point he guest-lectured at UCLA, and the students told him that he was wrong about what the book meant. He walked out.
    • Despite Douglas Adams explicitly saying that the number 42 was randomly chosen with no intended hidden meaning in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Epileptic Trees involving everything from base thirteen to Tibetan monks continue to live on.
      • In-universe example: When Vogon Jeltz asks Arthur and Ford what they thought of his poetry, they attempt to save their own necks by going into excruciatingly sycophantic analytical detail. At one point they comment that the poem serves to "counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor." Jeltz doesn't buy it, and sentences them to being tossed out the airlock, grumbling: "'... counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor.'... Death's too good for them."
    • Take your pick with Harry Potter. An allegorical polemic against the UK's strict gun laws. A diatribe against Thatcher's Britain. A foaming defense of fascism. Praise for a class society. Subversive feminism. Subversive racism. Subversive Marxism. Damaging society by making nerdiness cool and desirable instead of a cause of beatings to minimize its destructive influence. Damaging society by projecting and propagating the domination of sport over superior influences such as nerdiness.
      • There are those that argue that Harry Potter is symbolic of gay society. To support this, some people simply replace the word "wand" with something else, and reflect upon how it seems almost as many scenes were written with that substitution in mind (despite the fact that female characters also use wands). Ignoring that the series only has one (informed by Word of God only) gay character.
        • The "wand" thing, actually, is mostly a game. There are much more logical arguments about the possibility of it being the story where Harry is symbolically gay, analyzing everything from his literal living space in a closet to the treatment of non-human magical beings. Correct or not, people have thought it through quite thoroughly.
      • John Granger teaches a class on, and wrote two whole books on, how Harry Potter can be seen as a fully Christian work filled to the brim with symbolism culled from classic authors the likes of which Tolkien and Lewis were reading in their heyday. However, whether he is right or wrong, it could be a bit too much of a coincidence that all the good guys are on the team with the lion mascot and all the bad guys are on the team with the serpent mascot (which Satan is commonly associated with). There's also this, which "argues" that Harry is The Antichrist.
        • Since the literary tropes of Europe are highly influences by Christianity and Rowling is a Europen writer, it would seem not very suprising that Christian symbols appear in her works. Lions are universally used as a symbol for strength and nobility for centuries and when has there ever been an animal more associated with evil than snakes?
        • Rowling essentially admitted as much in a 2007 interview with Time magazine. She said that she used Christan themes because it was what she was familiar with, but that the themes could apply to almost any religion. "I did not set out to convert anyone to Christianity. I wasn't trying to do what C. S. Lewis did."
      • There are some cases of genuine, intentional symbolism in the books. For example, J.K. Rowling has said that the Dementors are meant to represent clinical depression. The feeling of being around Dementors as exactly the same as being depressed. "Like there would never be any happiness again in the world" is one example. It's safe to say that if anyone manages to convince themselves that Rowling meant the Dementors to be anything more allegorical than "depression", they're terribly deluded.
      • Unfortunately for Ms. Rowling, while other books are overanalyzied to find any meaning, her books are commonly found to have whatever meaning that person happens to be on the side of. For example, extended examination of the varied modes of abuse of power. Also eventually stealth deconstruction of the bildungsroman and Cinderella archetype, given how screwed up Harry gets. And this is a mind-numbing analysis of ONE scene in Harry Potter, probably not even a whole chapter. It's almost 4,000 words.
      • Harry Potter for Seekers is an entire website devoted to the alchemical and spiritual symbolism in Harry Potter, as if it's a genuine discipline of mysticism. One page evaluates the symbolism of the characters. Take the lead protagonist, for example:

    "Harry...symbolizes the new soul force in the seeker who wants to go the Path of Alchemical Transformation resulting in total liberation. Harry...will break all seven chains tying the seeker to the universe of time and space, and he will defeat the root-force of the fallen universe that dwells within the seeker."


    Or Minerva McGonagall:


    "Minerva symbolises the divine force that conducts the process of transfiguring the mortal imperfect human being into a perfect child of God."


    Also, Dumbledore is God and the Golden Snitch is the Holy Spirit.

    • Isaac Asimov once wrote a short story, titled "The Immortal Bard", that made fun of this tendency. He also wrote a serious essay that ended up concluding that the "true" meaning of a story is whatever the reader thinks it is.
      • In a brief essay about a short story called "Sally," Asimov stated that there's one part in the story that he knew armchair psychologists would jump all over as proof of some subconscious desire of his. He goes on to say that anyone who says so is completely wrong, because he wrote it that way on purpose and knew full well how it would be interpreted.
    • There was a girl who was the daughter of a book author, and coincidentally, they were reading one of the books her father wrote in class and discussing all those hidden meanings and symbolism. When she got home she asked her dad about them, who proclaimed that the school had made all those up and it wasn't his intention to put symbolism or anything in the book. He asked the school to correct this, and they said no. The girl in question was Astrid Bear, daughter of science fiction great Poul Anderson, and wife of Greg Bear. Mostly he was amused.
    • Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum plays on the theme of hidden meanings and symbolism.
      • Eco himself has jokingly called Foucault's Pendulum "Dan Brown's Biography".
    • Spencer's Faerie Queene suffers from this. The use of allegory in the poems has spawned legions of literature professors who are obsessed with discovering the symbolism of every single character, place, and object.
    • Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 does everything it can within the text to stop you from over-analyzing it; the basic plot is about a women seeking the meaning of a symbol she found written on a bathroom wall, and after finding some of the most improbable answers ever... well, the book ends just before we find out whether it was imagined, a hoax, or f'real.
      • Considering the whole book is explicitly a Mind Screw punctuated by events which are probably completely random, trying to solve the mystery is the real joke. Seriously, how many people would be seriously concerned about a conspiracy about the Postal Service?
      • The novel's about paranoia and the role it plays in everyday life. At least, that's the consensus interpretation. The reader is deliberately manipulated into over-analyzing the text so that she empathizes with the protagonist. We never find out the answer because the answer doesn't matter. What does is that all of the characters use paranoia to create overarching order that's more comforting than the cold chaos of reality. In that respect, it's sort of about this trope.
    • In the third book of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, The Dark Tower, Jake is forced to submit a psychotic rant he doesn't even remember writing as his Final Essay, which he worries will finally let everyone know he's losing it, but the yuppie teacher interprets it as an astounding symbolic piece despite its insanity.
      • And when he sees this glowing review of his essay, he does what a lot of authors probably do under similar circumstances, and laughs himself silly.
    • Not long after it was published, the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a Who! was co-opted by anti-abortion activists, largely thanks to the line "A person's a person, no matter how small"... even though Theodore Geisel was himself pro-choice, and protested the use of the phrase by pro-life activists. The debate continues to this day, including litigation by Geisel's widow, and the release of The Film of the Book hasn't helped a bit. Seuss himself said the book was about the Cold War and post-war relationships between America and occupied Japan, and according to his wife it was about corporatism and fascism.
      • The prequel to Horton Hears a Who is called Horton Hatches an Egg, interestingly enough...
      • Speaking of the good Doctor, many of his books can be taken as allegorical or symbolic of something. Yertle the Turtle, for example, is supposed to be Hitler, while The Butter Battle Book is an obvious satire of the arms race.
        • Similarly, The Sneetches is a fairly Anvilicious parable on the stupidity of racism, and The Lorax is straightforwardly about environmental conservation.
      • It is certainly true that his books have been subjected to analysis. Here is an example. The Cat In The Hat Comes Back is a story that cleverly teaches the alphabet, while the Cat In The Hat is trying to clean up a pink cat ring that eventually spreads and turns all the snow pink. Some people have actually written theses on this story, and claim that the pink ink represents the spread of Pinkos (Communist sympathizers who are not necessarily Communist party members) and that the "VOOM" that gets rid of all the pink on the snow represents the atomic bomb being used to wipe them all out. Dr. Suess himself had said in an interview that these people are wasting their time, and that he does not to express his political views in children's books - he had already done so in the political cartoons he drew.
        • Except for "The Sneetches". And "The Butter Battle Book". And "The Lorax".
    • In Lord of the Flies, is Jack supposed to represent Hitler? Is Simon Jesus? Is the lack of girls on the island proof that boys are evil? The overuse of symbolism and metaphors in the book don't help.
      • The lack of girls probably just means that their school was single-sex, like most English schools when the book was written (particularly the ones that had choirboys and prefects, which theirs evidently did.) At the time, it would have been more of a statement for the characters to come from a "co-educational" than a single-sex school, so Golding probably decided it would distract from his basic message. Also, if there were girls, it would hit the nethermost Darker and Edgier regions, since it is very predictable Jack's camp will use them for rape.
      • The book IS an allegory for the savage nature of man. Simon does represent religion, Jack is tyranny brought on by fear (the beast, terrorists, etc.) Roger is complete depravity that's only sanctioned by social norms (see also: Josef Mengele), The Conch is order, Piggy, Ralph, Jack, Piggy's Glasses, the pighunts all have a deeper meaning. Items that break and characters that die do so for a reason. The name of the demon Beelzebub (בעל זבוב or Baʿal Zəbûb in Hebrew) from The Bible literally translates to "Lord of the Flies".
    • This trope is parodied extensively in House of Leaves. One critic of The Navidson Record goes as far to say that since only men wish to explore the house and women are not interested in doing so that the house is an allegory for a vagina.
    • Santiago of Old Man And The Sea is Jesus, though Hemingway stated that the book was just about fishing and old age, nothing else.
      • Kurt Vonnegut theorized with jest in the prologue of — his part autobiography, part philosophy, part satire masterpiece — Timequake about the The Old Man and The Sea, saying that it might be an allegory of Hemingway's view on his critics, refering to the long eighty-four days since the fisherman had caught anything as the ten years since Hemingway had published a book (at the time) and they bit off piece by piece of the book just like the fisherman's catch.

    Vonnegut: It could be that the sharks Hemingway had in mind were critics who hadn't much liked his first novel in ten years, Across the River and into the Trees.

    • So is Santiago from Chronicles of a Death Foretold. The reason? He wore white and might not have slept with a woman before she married. Never mind all the other women he did for a fact sleep with.
    • Although not straight, Basic Instructions proposed a new cryptic interpretation for Moby Dick: a metaphor of marriage.
    • Unsurprisingly, Neal Stephenson hangs a lampshade on this trope by having several of his characters explicitly identify themselves with figures from ancient and classical mythology (e.g. Hiro and Juanita from Snow Crash are Enki and Inana fron Sumerian mythology, and Danial and Eliza from The Baroque Cycle are Pluto and Hermes from Greco-Roman mythology).
    • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is an allegory about post-industrial America: the Tinman is the industrialized, heartless North or East Coast; the Scarecrow is the unindustrialized, lazy/ignorant South; the Lion is the undeveloped West; and Dorothy is the developing Midwest.
      • It's the Populist Movement, and as Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope notes in the linked column, it kind of falls apart when you cross-correlate the individual parts. As he notes, if the Wicked Witch of the West is the Forces of Nature, well, why are the Forces of Nature so hot for Free Silver (Dorothy's Silver Slippers)? See also the article to which Cecil links at the end of that page.
      • The Wicked Witch of the West is Manifest Destiny Imperialism that drove the annexations of the Phillipines, Hawaii, and other Pacific islands. She wants Free Silver because only such a massive expansion of credit (through her sister, The Wicked Witch of the East/Wall Street Bankers) can drive the military expansion necesarry to make the Pacific an American lake.
      • "Oz" works beautifully as a metaphor of the Search For Enlightenment. The heroine wants to Get Home (to return to her innocent past), her companions are hoping to find Wisdom, Love, or Power: the Teacher turns out to be a fraud, and the final moral is - what else? - she had the way to get her wish with her all along.
      • Another theory raised decades after the books were published suggest it's an allegory for the political battle between the silver and gold standard for the Treasury. The main character is told that she must follow the "Yellow Brick Road" (i.e. bars of gold) to the "Emerald City" (i.e. greenbacks) where the wizard will make everything right. Of course, he's a fraud, and the real power is in the "Silver Shoes" (i.e. the silver standard).
        • And the Cowardly Lion represents William Jennings Bryan! (Despite not, y'know, objecting to the Yellow Brick Road as such.)
    • If you believe the critic R.W. Stallman, Jim Conklin in The Red Badge of Courage is Jesus Christ and redeems Henry. Stephen Crane lied and said it was just a "psychological portrayal of fear."
    • John Cotton in Bless the Beasts And Children is Jesus too. After all, he's killed by a Judas truck. (And yes, this is taught in schools.)
    • John Steinbeck himself said that The Grapes of Wrath had five distinct "layers," and that he didn't expect everyone to understand or even notice all of them.
    • Some fans of Sherlock Holmes have speculated on the fact that master criminal Professor Moriarty and his second in command Col. Moran both have clearly Irish surnames, despite both apparently being English. Doyle himself, though Scottish, had Irish ancestry on both sides and a recurring, if often ambivalent, interest in the country adding to the speculation over the meaning (if any) of the names.
      • Fagin, the Affably Evil crook from Oliver Twist, is named after an Irish co-worker of Dickens's (from his hated years in the boot-blacking factory.) Subverted in that Dickens's Fagin is explicitly Jewish (ethnically, anyway: in the scene where he's introduced we see him breaking Kosher laws by eating pork sausages.)
    • Shirly Jackson wrote a short story called "The Lottery". It is about a town who ritually sacrifice a person, RANDOMLY DRAWN from the entirety of the townspeople, to be stoned to death to help the harvest. It is about nothing else. There is no symbolism and deeper meaning in it beyond that.
    • Tolkien. Poor, poor Tolkien. You can't write a successful good-versus-evil story in the twentieth century without every other English High School teacher hijacking it for a "Tom, explain how The Lord of the Rings is an allegory on WWII!" lesson. He stated in the introduction of the first volume that no, it's not an allegory of any kind (and was apparently against straightforward allegories anyway), and doubly no, not one on fascism, Nazis, WW II or what have you. Doesn't stop some teachers.
      • Some people also seem to think that 'the West' into which Frodo & Co eventually go is only allegorical. While it can be construed as symbolic, it's also very much an actual place (as explained in the Appendices and The Silmarillion.) Yes, it's a place. Where the angels and immortals live, and the dead rest in the ever-expanding halls of Mandos. It's not allegorical, it's stated.
      • Tolkien drew a distinction between "allegory" and "applicable". The fact that a story has parallels with a real life event doesn't mean the parallels can't be legitimately drawn, but it doesn't justify 'explaining' the story by the parallels. Nor does it mean the author intended the parallels.
    • Mark Twain attempted to avert this in the opening of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Bonus points for meta-humor, as many readers develop strange theories concerning the identity of "G.G., Chief of Ordinance." Word of God actually made that one pretty clear: Gatling Gun.
    "PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
    —BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR, Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance."
      • This might be the only time you can justifiably say you could shoot your English teacher...
      • Not nessicarily. Twain NEVER states that there IS NO MORAL OR MOTIVE. What he says is that people attempting to find one will be shot. The narrative of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn CERTAINLY promotes a way of thinking the was highly controversial at the time. Ideas that were likely to get people shot, particularly if they attempted to carry them out in the way that Huck did. This troper posits that teh preface to the novel was in fact Twain's attempt to lampshade the moral and motive of the work in order to not offend the people in power who could have stopped his work from being published. Much the same as Puck's "If we shadows have offended" speech in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
        • *gunshot sound*
      • Certainly, Twain was mocking on people who look for deep inner meanings in shopping lists. However, Twain was famous for being a humorist, aka "a smartass." What is the best way to really get someone to want to do something? Tell them they can't
    • According to an author's introduction to one of his Rebus books, Ian Rankin once sat in on a lecture about the symbolism in said book, specifically his use of colours. He said that none of it was intentional but he thought that they were coming out with some pretty good stuff.
    • There are many who suggest Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall Of The House Of Usher was all about incestuous rape. Madeline had a faint blush and a smile on her face when she "died" because "orgasm isn't always voluntary", and humped Roderick to death at the end of the story.
    • In VALIS by Philip K. Dick, many things are Jesus.
      • In fact, its successor, The Divine Invasion, outright says that Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory.
    • Richard Adams has admitted he regrets telling people that Hazel, Bigwig and Keharr in Watership Down are based on real people he served with in World War Two, because since he did the people who thought it was a re-telling of WWII through clever analogy can say that they were right all along, whereas Richard Adams himself has always maintained that those who thought it was a book about Rabbits moving from one place to another and overcoming various obstacles were right all along, and that Woundwort, although very unpleasant, was meant to be a generic dictator and does NOT represent Hitler, just as Campion is not Rommel, the farm dog getting involved does not represent the soviet union or the atomic bomb.
    • American Psycho has been interpreted in many different ways: the most common explanations are "Bateman never killed anyone (and is living an escapist fantasy)", "Living people are mistaken for Bateman's victims because all businessmen look the same, which is why no one misses them", and "Bateman is everyone". Then the author came along and said Bateman was actually his father.
      • Then Ellis wrote Lunar Park, in which a character also called Bret Easton Ellis (but living a very different life) is haunted by his father and at least three different Batemans, at least two of which are in his head and one of which symbolizes the crazed fandom, and then he goes on to explicitly reference Bachtin's literature theory (on how the hero can control his author because the author cannot be aware of the full writing process) - and says even he doesn't know if Bateman actually ever killed anyone. And his son, who doesn't really exist and then turns into the Bateman/father/student/self character, is actually an allegory for the complete works of an author, which the author has to accept responsilibity for but - at the same time - set free. Considering the book also features a Furby crawling up a dog's ass to possess it, it's, er... open to interpretation.
    • François Rabelais' Gargantua has a preface that both mocks the reader who looks for any hidden meaning, and then encourages them to dig deeper to find the wisdom in the book. The "hidden wisdom" is probably to sit back and enjoy the damn book.
    • Dracula is supposedly a story of English racism and fears of class, sexuality, feminism etc. Dracula is variously interpreted as a homosexual, a Jewish man, or another type of foreigner, whose "monstrous" nature is not literal but symbolic of the "corrupting influence" of those forces. Or it's about a demon in human form who goes around eating people. Take your pick.
      • Not bad for a Penny Dreadful.
    • The Confidence Man is one of Herman Melville's strangest works, and not only a satire but it has his views on religion, morality, and the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. The confidence-man character in himself is interpreted as either God or Satan, depending on how much you think about the name of the coal company he claims to work for. The symbolism adds on even more Mind Screw.
    • Google "Turn of the Screw interpretations". Just google it.
    • The Bible itself is subject to this, even in a literal sense, as many Old Testament figures, such as Moses, show parallels with Jesus. Certain theologist believe that these were prophetic foreshadowings for the Messiah, while skeptics believe that the New Testament was intentionally written to match these older stories.
      • Even the writers of the gospels have this happening, where some of them, through narrative use of As the Good Book Says... (although it's a different Good Book), claim that this event or that saying were to fulfil what had been said by the prophets beforehand. Some of them are pretty significant stretches.
      • Many theologians consider the Book of Revelation a parable, but unfortunately it is no longer clear what the events and persons it refers to are.
    • The Divine Comedy pretty much has everyone as Jesus in purgatory.
    • This article describes Coraline as an anti-communist parable.
    • There is a common interpretation of a scene in The Metamorphosis wherein Gregor's father throws apples at his insect form is an Adam and Eve metaphor. In a short story written by Franz Kafka...who was Jewish.
    • The Israeli author Aharon Megged parodies this trope in his book The Flying Camel and The Golden Hump.

    Live Action TV

    • Parodied on a Not the Nine O'Clock News episode. Watch it here.
    • The Prisoner pushed the limits of this trope about as far as live-action TV can possibly go; you're never certain whether you're being told a straightforward, literal story or witnessing something allegorical—except in the final episode, where the show ditches nearly all pretenses of literalism.
      • Ditto the remake, where it doesn't hurt that 6 is played by Jim Caviezel.
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had many examples of subtext and allegory, which led naturally to some overanalysis by the fans. One theory involves each season representing one of the seven steps on the path to Buddhist Nirvana (originally posted between seasons 6 and 7, with an amendment after the finale).
      • Because of this, and because Joss Whedon knows his audience, in the season 4 Dream Sequence episode, everything in the characters' dreams has a meaning. You can read something into absolutely everything... except for the man with the cheese. This hasn't stopped some from trying to prove otherwise of course. Because, obviously Joss is in denial or trying to throw us off the scent. Of course, since we're referring to Joss and the fans are certain the Cheese Man has meaning, then that means he means nothing because there's nothing Joss loves more than Jossing fans.
    • The ending of (the original,British)Life On Mars: Did Sam commit suicide? Or did he never even wake up from his coma in the first place? Was he even in a coma to begin with? Or something else entirely? Although the writer himself has directly stated that the first one occurred, plenty (including the star of the series) go with the second interpretation—and it has to be acknowledged that the series is ambiguous enough to make either possibility valid.
      • Ask five Ashes to Ashes fans about the meaning of the scene in the S1 finale with Gene carrying young Alex away from the scene of her parents' death; expect about seven different interpretations.
        • Ask those same five fans about the season three mysteries ( did Gene kill Sam Tyler? What are the stars? Who the hell is Jim Keats anyway?), and expect even weirder speculation.
        • And the really weird thing is that the truth turns out to be the trope title, almost exactly. Only minus the Jesus part. Except that by the end Gene Hunt kind of is Jesus.
        • As per the Ashes to Ashes finale, yep, everyone was in a copper's purgatory, and Gene was the gatekeeper.
        • It seemed more like Nelson was the gatekeeper, what with the pub acting as the gate to heaven and all that.
          • The gate to heaven? This is Britain. The pub is heaven.
    • Lost is a series with much deep meaning and symbolism, but many fans take it too far. This is, after all, the fandom where the name for Epileptic Trees came from. There are even theories that include this exact trope title, which have already been discredited by the Word of God and the show itself, as the survivors are still alive and escape into the outside world, plus characters come to the Island from what is clearly a existant world. And yet people still claim they are in Purgatory.
      • Well, it doesn't really help that the producers are dirty liars.
        • What makes it worse is that it's hard to tell if the people behind the show simply lie about everything to throw people off the scent, or if they actively mine the Wild Mass Guessing of the audience for ideas. Where you stand on the issue probably depends on whether or not you believe the writers when they say they aren't just making everything up as they go along.
          • Given how even the weirdness of fan theories managed to not predict such bizarre twists as a frozen wheel moving the Island, a immortal man living in a statue of a Egyptian goddess, changing the timeline so that 815 never crashed by going back to 1977 and stopping the Incident and another immortal, shapeshifting man posing as a dead John Locke, they're at least not mining crazy fan theories.
            • Actually, 3 isn't true, as per below.
      • Everyone is Jesus indeed. There's...
        • The omniscient character
        • The omniscient character's son, whom she sends to the island to die to save it.
        • The baby born with a prophecy.
        • The character who looks like Jesus, dies arms spread then gets resurrected.
        • The character actually named "Christian Shepherd."
        • The god who dies.
      • In some interpretations, "The End" reveals that everyone, after they die, will end up as Jesus in Purgatory. The "flash-sideways" timeline turned out to be a flash-forward to a "meeting place" of sorts, where the cast of the show was already dead and had to find each other and remember their past life on the island before they could move on to the next/afterlife.
    • Is the Doctor Who story The Happiness Patrol really about Feminism? Thatcherism? Homosexuality? Or is it just a fun, weird little story on a Planet of Hats where one of the villains is made of candy? You decide.
      • And the pot is further stirred by character-acting goddess Sheila Hancock's pitch-perfect Margaret Thatcher imitation playing Big Bad Helen A.
      • Right before he dies, Dalek Sec says "My Daleks, understand this. If you choose death and destruction then death and destruction will also choose you" which sounds familiar. Oh, and he said it right before he was killed by the people he was trying to, in the words of the Doctor, "lead from the darkness."
        • Eleven "saves the soul of a rich man" in "A Christmas Carol". Ten is supposed to be Madame de Pompadour's angel.
    • There are plenty of suggestions of a religious subtext in Russell T. Davies' work, from the obvious The Second Coming to the Host in the Doctor Who story "Voyage of the Damned" to (some say) the Doctor almost literally turning into Jesus in "Last of the Time Lords". Not to mention the Resurrection Glove (and a guest appearance by Death) in Torchwood. (Whether most of this is supposed to mean anything, however, is a different question.)
    • There are plenty of theories on Supernatural's "What Is and What Should Never Be". Some think Dean's wish was for rest (as suggested by continual use of "Get some rest") while others think that it was just getting his Mum back. And some think that it was just an Alternate Universe where he would have been a bastard if not for hunting (which, if true, might just be the most disheartening thing that they've ever done) while others think that the Djinn just took it from his wish and Dean's the one who hates himself enough to think that he's a slutty, worthless, borderline alcoholic jerkass (which would be more in keeping with his serious lack of self-worth throughout the entire series). Either way, it's still a massive Tear Jerker.
    • A theory that became popular a while back is that the cast of Gilligan's Island represent the seven deadly sins: Mary Ann is envy, the Professor is pride, Ginger is lust, Mr. Howell is greed, Mrs. Howell is sloth, the Skipper is both gluttony and wrath, and Gilligan himself is Satan. An alternate form of the theory assigns Gilligan gluttony (either because he constantly eats but never gets fat, or because all he does is take up space) and leaves the Skipper with just wrath.
      • They actually referenced the Seven Deadly Sins in "Rescue from Gilligan's Island"...
      • Gilligan is the Devil, and the island is Hell, with no escape possible.
    • Keep an eye out for wacky theories about Christian allegory in In the Night Garden. Makka Pakka lives in a cave, and garages his scooter in another cave, rolling a round stone in front to close the entrance (like Christ's tomb). He also goes around washing everyone's faces (John the Baptist). Igglepiggle goes out in a boat (sermon from the boat/"fishers of men"). Upsy Daisy (Mary Magdalen). The Pinky-Ponk (merkabah). And so on. The point is that the creators of In the Night Garden are all old enough to have had compulsory religious education at school, and have all the Christian imagery floating about in their heads, waiting to slip out into a programme concept. If they had intended to include a Christian allegory, it would have been more coherent and with a stronger moral message (not to mention a work ethic!).
      • Not to disagree, but the "work ethic" is not a tenet of traditional Christianity. Before Puritan times working harder than you needed to was seen as a sign of worldliness and greed.
        • That said, there are passages of scripture that suggest one should perform their work as if they're doing it for God alone. It's never been official church dogma, however.
      • Good God, the only allegory I've ever heard about In the Night Garden is that it's a pastiche of an insane asylum. Makka Pakka has obsessive-compulsive disorder (always washing rocks), Upsy Daisy is a manic-depressive (wavering wildly between happiness and suddenly sleeping), the Pontipines are in for family therapy, Igglepiggle has anxiety issues given he clings to a blanket like Linus Van Pelt and collapses when a problem is exposed, the Hahoos have bulimia, the Pinky-Ponk is in for drug treatment because he's always high, the Ninky-Nonk clearly has amphetamines issues, and the Tombliboos are having problems accepting they're gay. Everyone's clearly medicated, which is why they act so odd and happy all the time.
    • In The Sopranos episodes "Join the Club" and "Mayham," Tony Soprano, while in a coma, dreams of himself as a salesman who loses his wallet and takes the identity of Kevin Finnerty. Numerous fan theories have suggested the dream was actually Purgatory, which Tony was visiting. Note that while series creator David Chase has Jossed all theories of the significance of the "Kevin Finnerty" name, he has neither confirmed nor denied the Purgatory theory regarding the dream itself.
    • Parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000. At the end of Bloodlust, the villain ends up nailed to one of his own trophy stands, causing Tom Servo to quip "Why this symbolism? Did Christ hunt people on deserted islands?"
    • Also parodied in a skid of German comedian Loriot, where two film critics get into a heated argument about a silent movie slapstick clip, that is just 4 second long. One of them sees the "movie" as one of the greatest examples of cinematography and artistic quality, while the other one regards it as a socialist allegory about the population revolting against the exploitation by the ruling class. The skid and the clip in quest, can be viewed here.
    • The Visitors in the 2009 re-imagining of V has been pointed out to resemble President Obama. Word of God says that this isn't intentional.
    • Of all the shows likely to avoid such theories, you might expect Seinfeld to be one of them. You'd be wrong. Interpretations of the final episode have claimed that, in reality, the airplane on which the four leads were flying crashed, killing them all. Their trial was actually a stand-in for their judgment in the afterlife, and their prison sentence represents them being damned to hell for all eternity (or, more pleasantly but less likely, given the nature of the characters, is representative of a very lengthy stay in Purgatory).
    • It is theorized that Mister Ed is just visions of a disturbed man having deranged hallucinations that manifest themselves in the form of a talking horse.
    • Community, Abed's idea for a viral video for Shirley's church was a film about a filmmaker who was making a film about Jesus who realized that he himself was Jesus was having a film made about him.
    • John Zmirak once explained his tongue-in-cheek theory that The Addams Family represent "[A]n aristocratic, trad-Catholic homeschooling family trapped in a sterile Protestant suburb".


    • Any rock music, or any popular (as opposed to classical or traditional) music is about drugs. "You" in the lyrics? Refers to drugs. "She"? Metaphor for drugs. The singer "needs" or "wants" something? Drugs. Everything is drugs. Shoes are drugs. Seagulls are drugs. Drugs drugs drugs. Now, while musicians do write about drugs, it's far too easy to find drugs metaphors in everything that it's a bit of a shame how certain subjects were buried under lazy drugs interpretation. Normally, for certain demographics, this can double as an example for Everyone Is Satan in Hell.
    • Peter, Paul and Mary's song "Puff the Magic Dragon" tells a bittersweet story of an imaginative boy who grows up and leaves childhood whimsy behind. The story is inspired by an Ogden Nash poem called "Custard the Dragon." However, many stoners and moral guardians still insist that the song is all an extended allegory about pot. Most of the argument revolves around the "puffing" that occurs in pot smoking and the old slang term "chasing the dragon," which refers to smoking opium. The song's writers continue to deny any deliberate drug references in the lyrics, despite the vast number of popular songs that do openly talk about drug use.
    • Similarly, Subliminal Seduction author Wilson Bryan Key insisted that the Simon and Garfunkel song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was really secretly promoting heroin use. He went so far as to claim several of the more poetic phrases in the lyrics were actually "common drug slang", although their use as such has never been seen anywhere outside of his fevered imagination.
      • One could probably fill half the pages of the Literature section with Key's maunderings. This is the fellow, after all, who claimed that the word "sex" was embedded on Ritz crackers (by what method, he never quite explained) and in just about every single advertisement you ever heard of. He had a particular hate-on for liquor and tobacco advertisements, seeming to think that subliminal inserts in those ads were almost singlehandedly responsible for alcohol and tobacco addiction.
    • Freddie Mercury insisted unto his death that "Bohemian Rhapsody" had not only no hidden meaning, but no meaning at all. Due to this, most theories revolve around his bisexuality, which he also denied (well, refused to confirm) until his death. To be fair, though, the song definitely sounds like it might have some meaning deeper than "Mom, I just shot a guy and the police are after me, help..."
      • Quoth the man himself, in what should be the motto of troping wikis everywhere:

    Does it mean this, does it mean that, that's all anybody wants to know. Fuck them, darling. I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyse his work: If you see it, dear, then it's there.

    • The Beatles get this a lot:
      • Any of the various outlandish interpretations of the lyrics of "Come Together", such as what "toe-jam football" is.
        • The most popular theory for "Come Together" is that it's about John Lennon, its primary author. Some of the clues for that theory fit better than others.
          • The original version of the song was written as a campaign song for Timothy Leary, when he ran for Governor of California. The later version was a lot stranger...
      • "Helter Skelter" and the rest of the White Album, along with several other Beatles songs, are all a huge (and tragic) example of this. The song was written about nothing (or a playground slide, or maybe The Roman Empire), but Charles Manson built up this whole mythology around it about how it was prophecy and so on. Then he went around murdering people to fulfill the prophecy, or whatever. Whoops. Turns out it wasn't any of that at all...
      • A few backwards messages on a handful of tracks and a whole volume of coincidental, ambiguous and at times downright random pieces of "evidence" strung together, including isolated song lyrics and specific elements of the images on album covers, were enough to convince a whole group of fans that Paul McCartney was dead, and that there'd been a conspiracy to replace him. To be fair, some of this evidence is quite easy to interpret in such a fashion; much of it, however, is highly obscure and requires an extremely convoluted, selective and prejudicial reading in order to reach such a conclusion. Of course, the Beatles themselves reacted with laughter at this concept.
        • John Lennon admitted, not long before his murder, that the line "The Walrus was Paul" was included in "Glass Onion" for the sole purpose of screwing with the conspiracy theorists.
        • The originators of the "Paul is Dead" phenomenon have actually come out and admitted that it was a hoax, but that doesn't stop most proponents from claiming that they accidentally stumbled upon the truth.
        • Paul has a 50% chance of achieving the irony of being the only Beatle who isn't dead.
      • John Lennon was in the midst of writing the infamous "I Am The Walrus" when learned one of his old primary school teachers was having his students analyze lyrics from Beatles' songs, and decided to vex them by adding a verse composed mostly of nonsense. Considering the song contains Word Salad Lyrics like "Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna / Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe", you'd think the whole song was dedicated to confusing people who over-analyze song lyrics.
        • Actually, that was the point of that song. After they finished it, Lennon said "Let the fuckers work that one out."
        • Bob Spitz's biography says that "I Am the Walrus" was inspired by Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter." Combine that fact and the items already listed here with the examples for that particular piece (under the Literature section), and you could probably raise your own plantation of Epileptic Trees.
      • Six words: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". The Beatles insisted that it was about a painting that Julian Lennon once did of a classmate. The entire rest of the world insists it's about drugs, and LSD in particular. Although many seem to have gained this idea just from isolating the letters above in the title, to give the rest of the world some credit it sure sounds like it's more about drugs than children's paintings. The actual girl who the drawing was based on has remarked the nobody believes the song was actually about her because they all thought it was about drugs.
      • "Happiness is a Warm Gun" is obviously about heroin, amirite? Well, despite the fact that John Lennon claims that it was based on a handgun ad that contained the phrase from the title. That didn't stop Julie Taymor, bless her, from using the song for a scene in Across the Universe where an injured character gets doped up by Sexy Nurse Salma Hayek in a VA Hospital.
      • The Beatles themselves experienced this at times; John Lennon often maintained that 'Get Back' was intended by Paul McCartney as a snide little attack on Yoko Ono ("Get back to where you once belong..."). McCartney insists that it isn't, and that Lennon took this interpretation because he happened to look at Yoko whilst singing it once.
      • Although there is apparently a recording of rather un-PC lyrics about Pakistani immigrants.
        • To be fair, in its original form it was a satire of racists like Enoch Powell and those in the Conservative Party who wanted to restrict immigration from the non-white former colonies.
    • Two words: "Particle Man". Is it a pastiche of superhero comics, an allegory for the struggle between science and religion, or just a goofy little song by They Might Be Giants? You decide!
    • Arguably any song by System of a Down that they haven't been interviewed about (e.g. I-E-A-I-A-I-O).
    • Inverted by Don McLean's song "American Pie", which is intentionally jam-packed with obscure imagery and references. McLean, however, refuses to explain any of them, or to confirm/deny any interpretations by fans. He once gave an explanation, after much pestering, as to what the song meant: "It means I never have to work again." For the record, most of them seem to be jabs at rock-and-roll "sellouts", and the central theme is the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and Jiles "The Big Bopper" Richardson.
      • Very detailed and interesting interpretation here.
    • Parodied with Rebecca Black's Friday. Rebecca Black posted a video on youtube explaining the "deeper meanings" of the song, and explained the anti-war sentiments, etc. of the song. Played for laughs, and shows that Ms. Black has a good sense of humor about the controversy surrounding her song.
    • Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" has been interpreted as an anti-Vietnam War song, or a story about getting arrested for drug use. When actually asked, Simon himself said he had never really thought about it, but supposed it may have been a song about two schoolboys sexually experimenting with each other.
    • Blue Öyster Cult, Dio and other bands with cryptic lyrics as a part of their Signature Style pretty much ask for this. Of course, when Moral Guardians do the interpreting, they aren't nearly as creative as the band is about it, so every song becomes about doing drugs and killing yourself for the glory of Satan.
    • Nik Kershaw's "The Riddle" was complete random gibberish, according to the singer himself, and he wondered whether people would actually think of a meaning for the song. His record company decided to make a competition out of it, which resulted in loads of mail with analyses for the song. According to Nik Kershaw, "Some even made sense!".
    • Faith No More's "Epic" practically asks for this, with the end featuring repetitions of "What is it? It's it!" This, unsurprisingly, has led to many people trying to figure out just what exactly "it" is. The most common interpretations seem to be life, rape, and fashion (if you've never heard the song, just try to imagine what lyrics could inspire those three interpretations). In the end, though, this is yet another example of words just being put together because it sounds good.
      • One of the most common (if not the most common) interpretations is that the song is about auto-fellatio. Gives a whole new meaning to certain lines that you will never, ever unhear.

    "You can touch it, feel it, taste it so sweet. But it makes no difference, 'cause it knocks you off your feet."
    "It's crying, bleeding, lying on the floor. So you lay down on it and you do it some more."
    "It's dark, it's moist, it's a bitter pain."

        • And of course:

    "You want it all, but you can't have it!"

    • The entire genre of Progressive Rock is known for songs which are loaded with allegory, metaphor, obscure symbolism, and the Concept Album, in which all the songs on an album are all based on a specific theme, or which are all part of a larger story. For instance, the song "Supper's Ready" by Genesis was based on the Book of Revelation. Or their Concept Album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,; which is about... well, take your pick.
    • Judas Priest had to go to court after two fans attempted suicide with one succeeding, their parents claiming several songs featured the phrase "Do it" when played backwards. The band was acquited after pointing out A. "Do it" is such a simple phrase that many random sound combinations can sound vaguely like it, B. who was to say that the "it" meant suicide, and C. the band wouldn't want its fans dead; if they did have the ability to put post-hypnotic suggestions in their music, they'd probably go with "Buy more Judas Priest records".
      • Also, the band did not even write the song in question; "Better By You, Better Than Me", originally by Spooky Tooth.
    • Much of Bob Dylan's popularity is based on playing with this trope. His first, self-titled album was a flop, and he only gained notoriety due to the deliberately vague lyrics on his second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, with such gems as "How many roads must a man walk down/Before you call him a man?/How many seas must the white dove sail/Before she sleeps in the sand?". And that's just the first song....
      • On the flip side, many of his songs are completely misinterpreted or mean nothing at all. For example, Everybody Must Get Stoned references punitive biblical stoning rather than drugs. Other songs like Journey Through Dark Heart have been taken to be nothing more than a elaborate innuendo. The infamous Garbologist Webberman even dissected his simple appreciative family song Down Along the Cove as being about Heroin.
      • Mr. Tambourine Man, a song about writer's block and artistic inspiration has long been misinterpreted as being about drug dealers.
      • "Mr. Dylan, can you tell me what is the meaning of your Motorcycle T Shirt?"
    • In much the same vein as Dylan, James Blunt's music would not be nearly as popular if not for his complex and symbolic lyrics.
    • Someone once asked Kim Mitchell if "Go For a Soda" was an anti-impaired driving song. He replied, "No, but if you want to think of it that way, go ahead."
      • He also mentioned somthing like this on his radio show once.
    • Many think Chicago's song "25 or 6 to 4" is about taking drugs. Writer Robert Lamm clarified that it was about writer's block and staying up late (25 or 26 minutes till 4:00 AM) to complete a song, but the former interpretation remains popular.
    • Musicologist Susan McClary wrote a great deal about the inherent male-chauvinism in tonal music, right down to the cadence itself (now found in nearly every western music style). Beethoven was specifically targeted, with McClary talking about the strong elements of rape and sexual frustration found in his Ninth Symphony (best known for its final movement, "Ode to Joy"). She also relates to Adrienne Rich's poem "The Ninth Symphony of Beethoven Understood at Last as a Sexual Message," with quotes such as "The beating of a bloody fist upon a splintered table."
      • Apparently, Yoshiki of X Japan also pursued this line of thought regarding Beethoven's Ninth. He chose it as the most frequent (and most-recognized) lead-in to the band's song "Orgasm."
      • It would certainly add some interesting factors to A Clockwork Orange.
    • The notion that "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written by English Catholics as a coded catechism lesson has become widespread, even appearing in reference books about Christmas. Too bad there isn't any evidence for it.
    • Ah, MacArthur Park. Possibly - no, definitely - the most insane song to ever hit the charts. What's it about? Who the hell knows.
    • Every goddam Nirvana song is proof Cobain did or didn't kill himself (I Hate Myself And Want To Die). It is well documented that he basically wrote shit down, sometimes immediately before the songs were recorded, and sometimes songs were re-worded with different lyrics (Pay to play >> Stay Away). Somebody claimed 'Mr Moustache' was about Nietzsche.
      • Kurt Cobain once drew a comic strip of a man putting his ear to his wife's swollen belly to listen to the baby kick. He goes on about how it's going to be a good strong boy, and will be a misogynistic homophobe just like him. The last panel shows the baby's foot kicking through his father's head. Cobain has stated that this is what Mr. Moustache is about.
    • Devo seems to have gone to great lengths explaining that "Whip It" was intended as a style-parody of self-help poems rather than stuff like BSDM (made an even more popular interpretation due to the music video - though that was intentional) or, as some proposed, Whipping the Other "It". They also tried to explain that the video was not meant to offend women, but to subvert and mock American culture. It kind of defeats the purpose of these arguments though, when their more obscure work includes lines like: "It is the thing females ask for/When they convey the opposite", "That slant-eyed catfish/Was a fisherman's wet dream", "I need a chick/To suck my dick...There's no hope for my pole/I'd fuck a mink stole", "I wanna pet your fur...I wanna stand your fur on end", etc. Not to mention song titles like "Uncontrollable Urge" and "Jerkin' Back and Forth".
      • Granted, some of their most blatantly sexual and "offensive" songs were never released until their demo compilation, Hardcore Devo. And most of these songs are merely twisted parodies of culture. Still, "Triumph of the Will"? The only way they got away with that is by not achieving enough fame for anyone to notice.
      • Uncontrollable Urge does not really appear to be about sex, but rather about someone who wants to make a public outcry, And Jerkin' Back and Forth appears to be a song about being frustrated with an unreasonable authority figure.
    • Dee Snider of Twisted Sister was called to court to defend his music and lyrics against the PMRC (Parent's Music Resource Centre). You can find his interview on the subject in Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. He basically accused Mrs Gore for having a dirty mind because she interpreted his lyrics as BDSM.
      • His argument was, a determined person would find any meaning they wished in any medium, whether based on subconcious thoughts or predeteremined meaning, but they would only find what they wanted to. That Mrs. Gore "wanted" to find BDSM imagery was just icing. As was Al Gore's expression.
    • Anna Nalick's "Breathe (2AM)" contains the lines "'Cause these words are my diary screaming out loud/and I know that you'll use them however you want to." Anna has gone on record stating that once the music is out there, it's no longer hers, and it can be interpreted however the listener wants it to be.
    • Go to any Pet Shop Boys fan forum and ask what [song of your choice] means. Enjoy your one-page essays. The probability of someone saying "It's about AIDS!" approaches 1 with each subsequent reply. And in a literal example, the title character of "Birthday Boy" is either Jesus, Matthew Shepard, or both.
    • XTC's "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" has often been interpreted as an allegory about Jesus, John Lennon, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., etc.
    • Stevie Nicks has stated that many, if not most, of her songs are autobiographical; over the years, some fans have gone over the lyrics with fine-tooth combs to try to relate them to events in her life, to the extent that it's become something of a parlor game in the Stevie fan community.
    • The Eagles' 'Hotel California' has been labeled as a metaphor for everything from Satanism to drug use.
      • Those are two of the saner metaphors people have come up with. Some of the more insane interpretations:
        • "This song is about people's souls being trapped in a morgue in Los Angeles after they die in a car crash."
        • "This song is about disco."
        • "This song is about royal families running the world but the Illuminati are keeping everyone from figuring out that's what the lyrics really mean."
        • "This song is simply a tribute to the band's love for California."
        • "This song is an allusion to Plato's Allegory of the Cave."
        • "This song is about a hotel run by cannibals."
        • "This song is about God creating humankind."
        • This song is about Changeling: The Lost.
      • Don Henley and Glenn Frye have spoken about the meaning of the song a number of times, and according to Word of God it's about materialism and excess in America, particularly in Southern California in the 1970s. (Fortunately, "excess in America" is such a broad topic that it can be reasonably assumed to encompass some of the more specific interpretations, such as drug addiction or alcoholism.)
        • Especially since drug use and alcoholism are the excesses most associated with California in general and LA in particular.
    • Ahem: Lady Gaga as an Illuminati Puppet
    • Peter Gabriel's Shock the Monkey has been interpreted as either being about animal rights or the Milgram Experiment. Gabriel himself has stated that the song has a romantic subtext.
    • BTS is inflicting this to themselves on purpose with the "BU universe" storyline, which consist in so many layers of heavy symbolism, literary references, call backs to previous videos and presentations, contradictory bits of lore in the albums booklets, and relentless hint dropping, that it has become almost impossible to know what exactly is actually happening, fans are becoming paranoid trying to decipher the plot, and the only more or less clear thing is the theme of the storyline (which amounts to "Adults Are Useless and Growing Up Sucks, but despite everything we have to survive and persevere"). Not helping at all is that the group members went on record saying that they had actually watched theories videos and that there was one that came dangerously close to the actual plot and meaning, but they never said which one was. Eventually the webcomic and the compiled version of the album notes revealed what was actually happening: one of the characters is in a Groundhog Day Loop via an apparent Deal with the Devil and is now trying to Set Right What Once Was Wrong but has increasingly failing on his attempts. Still, the speculation continues strong because there no explanation on how the situation came to be on first place, what is the actual extent of the situation, what some of the most surreal videos actually relate with the plot, and the scary hint that some of the other characters may be experiencing deja-vus from the previous loops and is not explained yet why.

    Newspaper Comics

    • In Peanuts, a common theory is that Linus' belief in the Great Pumpkin is a way of making fun of Christian evangelism, due to the fact that there's no evidence for the Great Pumpkin's existence, and Linus tries to convince people he's real. The fact that Linus often quotes from the Bible adds more fuel. This has been officially Jossed, with Charles Schulz claiming that the only inspiration for the Great Pumpkin was that he thought it would be funny if a character believed in a Santa Claus-like figure for Halloween.
      • It doesn't help that Santa Claus himself is often viewed as an allegory for the Christian faith.
      • Makes you wonder if he's entirely truthful, considering the strip where Linus travels from door to door asking people if they've heard of the Great Pumpkin, in the manner of a Jehovah's Witness. You don't see many people doing that for Santa Claus.
        • There's no need to - Santa Claus is an already-established faith. The Great Pumpkin isn't, and needs a prophet to spread the good news.
        • There's also a point when Peppermint Patty decided to believe in the Great Pumpkin (she needed a new baseball glove). This prompted Marcie to call Linus and tell him that he had "a disciple".
      • A darkly existential take on Linus and the Great Pumpkin can be found here.
    • Hilariously parodied in Pearls Before Swine.
    • In a rather legendary example of this, a Garfield Halloween storyline in 1989 depicted Garfield waking up and finding everyone and everything he knew to be gone and broken down. The storyline ended with Garfield embracing denial and suddenly Jon and Odie are back in front of him. A fan theory began on the Internet suggesting that every strip since that point has been Garfield slowly starving to death in his delusions or already dead. Davis was made aware of those theories in 2006 and is reported to have laughed about them.
    • Calvin and Hobbes has to at least get a mention for the Fight Club theories. As well as from a long lost Non Sequitur comic that makes its own theories about the child's need for an imaginary friend.
      • Jossed via Shrug of God in one of the anniversary collections, where Waterson explicitly states that Hobbes is alive to Calvin, and just a toy to other people. It's not that anyone's deluded, it's that both things are true
    • Not so much Jesus, but it's generally excepted amongst it's (many) detractors that the entire population of Funky Winkerbean (and by extention, Crankshaft) is in Purgatory (Limbo is also accepted) and merely awaiting inevitable death.


    • Most of the works of Shakespeare. Take, for example, A Midsummer Night's Dream. There is argument as to what the Love Potion is a symbol for—menstrual blood, symbolizing female dominance over males, or blood shed by a virgin in her first "act", symbolizing male dominance over females.
      • On that note, try asking your English teacher what Iago's motives are in Othello, and what Iago stands for. Go on, ask. You'll be there for a while. The obvious one is that he's Satan, which has a bit of weight to it. Another is that Iago is the author, trying to engineer a tragic play. Or maybe—just maybe—he's an intolerant redneck who has a problem working under a black man and a teetotaller, and suspects both of nailing his wife, like he says in the play.
        • Strangely enough, another common theory has it that Iago is merely a Card-Carrying Villain—no matter what other justifications he may make up, he's simply evil for the sake of evil, because Evil Feels Good. From a field in which everything is analyzed, scrutinized, and dissected until whatever life it had is gone, this seems like way too simple and sensible an explanation.
        • One can find sufficient textual evidence for an interesting production based on Iago's romantic love for Othello being his drive to eliminate first Desdemona and then the Moor himself.
        • There's also enough evidence to support the idea that Iago thought that both Othello and Cassio had affairs with his (Iago's) wife, Emilia. She claims that the rumors are false early in the play, but Iago broods over them several scenes later all the same. So Iago could have some sort of paranoia about being cuckolded, and thus tried to eliminate those he suspected of cuckolding him.
      • And Julius Caesar? Probably not about the "five stages of sex" like The Other Wiki claims.
      • Brian Aldiss wrote an article humorously arguing that Hamlet is meant to be extrememly overweight. He said Hamlet should be played by the type of actor who is usually cast as Falstaff. This was based on two quotes: "O that this too too solid flesh would melt," and "We fat all creatures to fat ourselves, and we fat ourselves to fat maggots."
        • Actually, a far clearer line is during the duel at the end, when Gertrude says that Hamlet is "fat and out of breath". Some scholars have however explained it with "fat" being a typo for "hot", or having the meaning "sweaty" or generally "out of shape" in 17th century English.
        • And "fat" in the second line mentioned above is a verb meaning "feed".
      • Bill Bryson argues that due to how little is actually known about Shakespeare's personal life, there is exactly 'one passage' in his entire canon that can safely be assumed as Shakespeare's own voice: Constance's Act III monologue about the death of her son in King John.
    • An instance similar to the Ray Bradbury one above, in which a writer comes to insist on a work having one meaning, even though it was originally written with some ambiguity, would be Bertolt Brecht with the Threepenny Opera. Some translations of the play include a lengthy section of notes in which Brecht offered a diehard Marxist interpretation. However, another translation noted that this section was composed several years later, and that Brecht was much less partisan when he initially wrote it. In fact, the play was initially attacked by other German communists.
    • Critics often debate Harold Pinter's absurdist play The Birthday Party, and just what the cake at the end is supposed to represent. When asked, Pinter replied that he thought the party should have a cake.
    • Equus lends itself to this. Many have interpreted it as a discussion of homosexuality (since the playwright Peter Schaffer is gay), or a libertarian ideal. The symbology within the play is messed up enough...
    • Waiting For Godot is either an allegory of the Cold War, a collection of Jungian archetypes or an examination of human existence and the role of God, depending on who you ask. Godot himself is often as being God, largely because of his name and the fact that both him and God are described within the play as having a white beard.
      • Samuel Beckett himself was very insistent about the fact that Godot was not God and if he meant Godot to be God he would have called him God.
      • Plus Waiting for Godot was orginally written in French and Godot's French name has nothing to do with the word 'God'.
      • Beckett apparently once referred to the play as a "slapstick comedy," which it kind of is.

    Video Games

    • Parodied in the Let's Play of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 by Pokecapn and fellow goons. Medibot claims that everything is the Iblis Trigger, including Pokecapn.
    • Final Fantasy X is about a boy who hates his father so much he kills him because he was jealous of the time his mom and dad spent together.
      • Not to mention the game beating you over the head with "Yuna is Jesus" analogies every thirty seconds. She had to die to save the world from Sin, for Christ's sake.
        • More overtly, she also walked on water barefoot in the Kilika Sending scene.
    • For an in-universe example of this, Fable I has the book "The Rotten Apple" seen as one Albion's premiere philosophical works. However, if the book is taken literally, it actually gives good advice on fruit farming.
    • Probably goes a long way to explain the continuing fascination with the convoluted plot and psychologically damaged characters of Final Fantasy VII over equally 'deep' but more straightforward entries in the series. Maybe it was all the references to Nordic myth, Jewish Kabbalah, and Judeo-Christian symbolism, maybe it was main hero's troubled past and unresolved Love Triangle, the abrupt and ambiguous Gainax Ending, or maybe it was just the bishonen with huge swords...but they're still arguing about this one, and the new games aren't clearing much up. The inspiration for this trope title comes from here, after all.
      • This article, which makes the claim that Aerith is evil. Especially the line "Assume for a moment that everything you know about Aeris is completely false"—in other words, "Assume that Aerith is evil, focus on everything that might point to this, and ignore everything to the contrary."
    • Chrono Trigger. Crono is Jesus, Marle is Mary Magdalene, and the entire game is simply rife with Biblical symbolism. It's true! This site says so!
      • Most of it is pretty good; but he missed the obvious allegory for Lavos. Evil, fell from "heaven", has (at least in the english version) been manipulating humanity since it came to earth, causes the Apocalypse once it reveals itself, is powering the allegory to the Anti-Christ; and the guy who made that site makes it some stupid comet from Revelations. Come on! It's Satan! It's obviously Satan!
        • Would this make Zeal the False Prophet?
    • Xenosaga. chaos is Jesus, KOS-MOS is Mary Magdalene, and the entire game is simply rife with Biblical symbolism. No, wait, that one's true.
      • Close, but not exactly. The trick is that Xenosaga is based on Gnostic philosophy and mythology, not contemporary Christianity. chaos is not Jesus. Jesus was just a prophet and a preacher; just a man with no actual divinity of his own. chaos and Mary (or Anima and Animus) were the actual power behind him, though, who worked all of "his" miracles. Xenosaga's fun like that.
        • chaos is called Jeshua, which is the Aramaic name for Jesus, and was close to Mary Magdalene in a previous life, so he's at least a Jesus, if not the Jesus.
    • Portal. There is an article claiming that the game has feminist/lesbian themes: The only male presence (or at least, the only thing ever referred to with a male pronoun) is the Weighted Companion Cube, an inanimate object; the way your "gun", rather than being a weapon of destruction, shoots oval-shaped "openings"; nearly all aggression on GLaDOS's part is passive aggression, or aggression by proxy via the turrets; and the fact that the player character, Chell, is neither male nor Stripperiffic eye-candy for male players like nearly every other female video game character. To be fair, it wasn't entirely clear whether the articles were serious or not ...
      • On the other hand, there's also a theory that GLaDOS desperately wants to die and that the whole maze was just a Thanatos Gambit to make Chell hate her enough to do it. Subsequently, 'Still Alive' expresses her disappointment when she finds out there's a backup.
      • It is also possible to read Portal as a pro-anarchist political allegory—the government tells you to run this "maze"—modern life—and attempts to secure your obedience with promises of "cake" and a "party"—wealth, fame, the "American Dream"—only to cast you aside and dispose of you when you cease to be useful for their purposes.
        • Alternately, it's a giant evil corporation (and a military contractor at that!), which takes on the coercive force of a government—still an anarchist allegory, though.
        • In the commentary tracks (New Game+, in the chamber for the final fight), GLaDOS' voice actress states that she needed to get back into character to sing "Still Alive". Said character is: "A lonely little AI who's angry that everybody comes to kill her."
        • It's hardly surprising that GLaDOS's voice actress was more sympathetic to her when she was the one playing her.
      • Not to mention another site claims that GLaDOS is actually representative of bondage and it's about how men keep women down but they're all dead now for some reason.
    • Team Fortress 2 as noted elsewhere, is a fun game about two teams of soldiers killing each other, with no plot whatsoever. This hasn't stopped Tropers on the Fridge Brilliance page from making comparisons to the Cold War, claiming it represents Change vs Stagnancy, and many more. These claims have almost nothing to base themselves on, because there is no plot.
      • Valve released a comic before the "Engineer update" came out that sketches a plot around the "characters" of the game. It's quite amusing but even Valve admit it was created retroactively. Note that the comic does not reference the cold war at all, but rather seems to have more of a steampunk/western theme.
    • The Game Overthinker is a blog that occasionally does this, when the webmaster isn't analysing the landscape of gaming in general.
    • The lyrics to "Twister". Take a look. You can't really blame the guy though. For lyrics like that, this mindset is completely necessary.
      • More so, that interpretation is probably accurate, given how weirdly worded the song is. What else could it mean?
      • The World Ends With You is practically a Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory game as a whole. Subliminal messages and religious symbols can be found everywhere if you look hard enough, and the roles of characters in the plot can be pretty much delved into something much deeper. Not to mention the fact that Joshua is the Jesus figure while simultaneously managing to be God, whose name is literally "Jesus" in another language...
        • Jesus, the son, is the same as God, the father, that's the idea behind the Holy Trinity. Therefore it's not impossible that Joshua play both roles at the same time. In fact, he's playing the role of the Holy Trinity.
      • These are indeed fair guesses, given that the majority of the characters are, in fact, in a kind of purgatory.
        • And one character actually is an angel.
    • The cryptic puzzle-platformer Braid inspired a number of theories mere days after its release, where main character Tim's obsessive search for the Princess represents everything from the pursuit of love and romance to the atomic bomb.
    • Being a Post Modern series that loves to tap on the video screen, and notable for its Mind Screw, the Metal Gear Solid series practically invites this kind of speculation... as if the the offical explanation wasn't strange enough already.
    • The Silent Hill series is filled with these. In this town, everything is symbolic, but are just vague enough so every player can make up their own interpretation. The first and second game, specifically, had a big deal of Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory material. Those monsters? They're the protagonists' repressed fears or guilt or sexual urges. Those fans? They represent the cycle of Alessa's rebirth, or the change from misty to dark world, or that it's just really hot in hell.
    • There's a theory with popularity that says the Stone Tower temple of The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask is an allegory of the Tower of Babel. It also turns the mask into a punishment from the gods and Link into a messianic figure sent to "redeem" Termina from their "sins".
      • Just Majora's Mask? Heck, every part of the series has had it's fair share of this! From Link literally being Jesus, to the Master Sword, the Moon Pearl and the Shadow Mirror symbolizing the imperial treasures of Japan (therefor making Hyrule, despite all evidence to the contrary, Japan), to absurd reasons why Link can't talk and overinterpratetion of Zelda's many Alter Egos as her having a Split Personality Disorder. It has all been there.
    • Final Fantasy Wiki theorises that the final battle of Final Fantasy VI is a direct allegory to Divine Comedy. The first part of the battle has you fighting a huge demon half submerged in ground, like how Satan is depicted in Inferno, thus making that part a symbolism for Hell. The second fight is against a multitude of suffering mortals, meaning the purgatory. The third fight has you face a pieta figure with Kefka in place of Jesus, representing Heaven. In the final, fourth part, you ascend above the clouds and Kefka himself comes to you, dressed in a toga, telling that he will destroy everything. Divine Comedy ends with Dante ascending to meet God, who tells him the meaning of life.
    • Just what the hell is Pokémon? Neo-Nazism, Satanism (enslaving creatures), atheism (you can capture GOD), and so on. The most common one is that it's glamorized dog/cock fighting. Word of God is completely ignored of course.
      • There has been at least one article relating it to simply coming of age. The main character leaves the safety of home with just a bare amount of power or knowledge (symbolized by the starting pokemon) to get by in the world, and as the character explores it grows in both (capturing more pokemon and learning new abilities) until it can take control of its own destiny and become an actualized adult (winning the game).
    • The Path can be (and was, in fact, intended to be) interpreted in many ways. Is it a cautionary tale about the dangers of temptation in its many forms? Is it a metaphor for life and growing up? Are the girls actually the memories of the grandmother at different stages in her life?
    • EarthBound has a lot of this going around, but one of the bigger reasons for this is the Eldritch Abomination final boss Giygas. One interpretation that the only reason that you can beat Giygas- who can't be damaged by anything and seems nearly invincible- is because he is the final boss of a video game, and therefore, it is your duty to beat him. Hence, Paula's prayer command only really works when it reaches you, the player.
      • Another popular theory claims that Giygas is supposed to represent a fetus. This one has been mentioned so often that fans of the series are really sick of hearing it by now.
    • This article on Pac-Man had got to be a parody of this trope.
    • Duke Nukem Forever is not juvenile sexist tripe, but a direct assault on the player's own participation and collusion with the Patriarchy.


    • 1/0 goes over the whole "subconscious" thing (in reference to an in-story EIJIP linking an earlier arc to the Taliban) here.
    • Parodied in Subnormality.
    • Parodied in Mac Hall.
    • Parodied by Riku in this issue of Ansem Retort.
    • This Three Panel Soul strip deserves a mention.
    • Xkcd's readers tend to assume that any depressing strip about romance or relationships is the product of Randall having a breakup.
    • In this Dinosaur Comics strip, T-rex's actions are charged with symbolism! Mostly to do with gender roles.

    Web Original

    Western Animation

    • A popular theory states that the dwarfs' names and personalities in Disney's version of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs represent the seven stages of cocaine addiction. It's bunk on all levels, of course.
      • Especially since there were some forty-odd names considered for the dwarves (maybe more). An early sketch of the seven dwarves included Baldy, Deafy and Gimpy.
      • Not to mention the fact that people generally aren't all that Bashful when they're high on coke.
        • That's the first stage, because that's why they start doing the coke in the first place.
      • Another theory speculates that Snow White stayed dead and her soul was taken to Heaven.
    • Parodied with Three Panel Soul's interpretation of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? as representative of the struggle between God and Satan.
    • Subverted, to great effect, in the "¡Viva Los Meurtos!" episode of The Venture Bros which features a group of characters who match up with both the Scooby Doo gang and famous criminals Ted Bundy (Fred), Patti Hearst (Daphne), Valerie Solanis (Velma), and David Berkowitz (Shaggy). Truly a tour de force.
      • In the Five College area of Massachusetts, Fred corresponds to Amherst College, Daphne to Mount Holyoake, Velma to Smith College, Shaggy to Hampshire College, Scooby to U Mass-Amherst, and your choice of community college to Scrappy.
    • The "F.U.N." song from SpongeBob SquarePants has been alleged to have sexual innuendo in it.
    • The South Park episode "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" is about this trope. The boys read The Catcher in The Rye and can't understand how a book about "a whiny teen talking about how lame he is" could be considered controversial enough to be banned. They decide to write a book that actually deserves to be banned, and proceed to create the most disgusting piece of literature ever written (the title of which is the title of the episode). Although nobody can read, listen to, or even recall a single passage without vomiting; it is nontheless praised as the greatest book ever written because everyone reads so much into the book that they find/create symbolism that isn't really there.

    "Oh yeah? Then why does Sarah Jessica Parker's buttcheese end up in Scrotie's milkshake?"


    • In an episode of King of the Hill, Peggy starts taking guitar lessons from a very non-traditionalist woman who rails against things like Mother's Day and who convinces Peggy to play at a coffee house. She performs an original song about a turtle, which everyone in the shop assumes there's deeper meaning, as indicated by their catcalls of "Stick it to that control freak!" and "Take That, corporate America!" However, Bobby, Hank, and even Peggy herself thought it was just about a turtle. However, it is implied that the turtle (who, in the song, was feeling trapped in her shell) was written from Peggy's subconcious about her feelings of boredom caused by quitting work to become a stay-at-home mom.
    • Parodied in Phineas and Ferb, "She's the Mayor". When Candace makes an essay about why her brothers should be busted, she gets instated as Mayor For the Day, because everyone thinks that it's the "Perfect Metaphor For Modern Times!" Everything she says that episode continues to be taken metaphorically.

    Crowd: DON'T STOP, DON'T STOP!
    Doofensmirtz: Well, I would if I were able/There's a platypus controlling me/he's underneath the table.
    Crowd: Say whhhhhhaaat?
    Person: Oh, I get it! Platypus is a metaphor for whatever's keeping you down. The corporations are a platypus, the government's a platypus, your teacher is a platypus, ITS ALL JUST PROPAGANDA.


    Real Life

    • Viennese doctor Sigmund Freud proposed the theory that every desire is due to subconscious, biological desires. Because reproduction is included in those, the trope Freud Was Right was created to explain how every single thing we ever say, do, or see is symbolic of how every single human at any given point in time, in their heart of hearts, subconsciously wish to get into the pants of just about anyone and everyone we can get our perverted hands on.
      • Subverted in one story about Freud. According to a probably bogus but popular story, Freud's disciples were speculating on the meaning of his cigar, whereupon Freud quipped "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar". In denial much, Doctor?
      • Snarked by the immortal Piet Hein in a grook called "Dream Interpretation Simplified": "Everything's either/concave or 'vex,/So whatever you dream/will be something with sex." (The accompanying illustration shows a man awakening from what is clearly depicted as a dream of lunch.)
    • Rhetorical Criticism is all about this. However, while many bash it as "looking for something that isn't really there," as if the critic in question is seeking out some kind of conspiracy on the part of the creator (or just over-intellectualized nonsense in general), in reality, the creator's intentions are completely incidental. Its how the text (which can include anything - a book, movie, song, photograph, real life situation, anything as long as it is something consumed/viewed by society) can be read by an audience. This can be used, for example, to explain why certain texts tend to resonate with an audience over others (for example, a paper could be - and probably has been - written on why atomic age films were so popular in the 1950's, or why vampires are so popular in pop culture today - because they explore fears and concerns of modern society, i.e. nuclear war, forbidden sexuality). In other cases, it is the text that is being used to explain the ideology, rather than the other way around (The first Batman film may not have been made with Jungan concepts of the shadow self in mind, but the fact that it happens to illustrate the concepts of duality means it can be used as an important example to students of Freudian thought).
      • Dr. John Zmirak identified one major reason why this kind of analysis can sometimes produce results that seem so outlandish and bizarre to ordinary laymen. All too often, scholars simply state their premises and proceed to analyze a work in light of those premises... but rarely does anyone ask whether those premises are actually true. A scholar might, therefore, produce a Marxist or Freudian or Feminist reading of Tony Orlando's "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" without ever considering whether Marxism or Freudianism or Feminism have or do not have any instrinsic validity as philosophical systems (he takes it as instructive that Economics departments rarely teach Marxism anymore and Psychology departments have been quietly moving away from Freudianism for decades).

    -- "I look forward with interest to alchemical readings of Sophocles and Lamarckian Biblical criticism. I’d really enjoy a good, solid account of Toni Morrison firmly grounded in Nostradamus."

    • Aleister Crowley once produced an exegesis of the hidden magical meaning contained in the nursery rhyme Old Mother Hubbard.
    1. An incredibly racist word for "Native American" stemming from the Mormon belief that their skin was darkened as a sign of the sin of their forefathers, and if they live good Mormon lives they'll be whitened up in Heaven