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Symbolism in literature is used to
give an entirely different meaning which is more significant and much deeper to
a story using objects representing other objects and giving them a sense that
is different from their literal meaning. The meaning of the symbols used to
depend on the reader, and there is no universal meaning for symbols used
because their purpose is inherent in the symbol itself. In both stories, the
authors use symbols to give different meanings to their story.

In Eduardo Galeano’s story, the
central symbolism is the relationship between Dulcidio and his wives which is
used to show the relationship dynamic between men and women and especially in a
marriage setting as husband and wives. The lizard consuming his wives and still
asking for more to quench his appetite is a representation of how men take over
the identity of their wives and yet keep demanding for more from the women such
as setting up a home and giving them children. Most women change their last
name after marriage and take over the identity of the husband. This is like
consuming the wives according to this short story.

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On the other hand, Charlotte Perkins
Gilman uses the symbol of Gerald’s’ voice to show the thinking of a young woman
who wished she was a man as to her, men had more power and were able to attain
an independence that she could not have as a woman. It is a story that brings
out the idea of the socially constructed gender roles as being outdated and
having no place in the modern world as they are damaging to both men and women
as they make them live in a way that is limiting and not fulfilling. This
symbol is used to voice the changes that Mollie Mathewson is experiencing when
her wish of being a man comes true, and she was able to experience the power
and freedom of being a man (Gilman).

In the short story “The Story of the
Lizard Who Had the Habit of Dining on His Wives” the symbol of the child
who is half man and a half lizard is used to propagate the theme of predator
and prey in the dynamic relationship between men and women. This symbol is
identified due to the use of a lizard which is a reptile, and most reptiles are
known to be predators who hunt the weaker prey for food and survival. The
author uses to portray men as predators and women as the prey. This is
especially evident when Dulcidio meets the lady who does not fall into the lure
as all the other women feel into which is the proclamation of his wealth (Galeano).
She is not the least bit interested, and this evokes the predatory
characteristics of the lizard. He keeps going back to the same place he met her
in the hopes of meeting her again and convincing her to be his wife.  He is behaving like a predator waiting for
his prey.

In her setting of the story, Charlotte
Perkins uses the symbol of Mollie entering her husband’s body to show the
difference in how the male gender experiences the world due to the socially
created roles as compared to how a female experiences the world. She is only
subconscious enough in her husband’s body to recognize the differences in her
experiences with those of her husband. For instance, in her husband’s body, the
new world seems to be just around the right size. Everything in the modern
world seemed to fit. She is free and comfortable. This symbol is used to show
the inner desire in women to be open to doing anything they wished and not be
constricted by a set unwritten rule. This symbol is used to bring out the theme
of independent women.  The thrill she
feels of having her own money and being able to decide on how to use it was a
different feeling since in her world women did not work.

Both short stories use symbolism to
bring out the theme of feminism. Feminism is a movement that believes in equal
opportunities for both men and women. In the short story “The Story of the
Lizard Who Had the Habit of Dining on His Wives,” the woman with the
glasses and a book represents women empowerment through feminism. The symbol of
her relationship dynamic with Dulcidio is used to develop this theme. The fact
that she is educated and independent and is unimpressed by Dulcidio’s wealth
leads to the identification of the use of the theme, feminism. All his other
wives had nothing of their own, and their families were poor while Dulcidio had
no shortage of wealth. He was, therefore, able to win them over by impressing
them with the wealth.

In the story “If I Were a
Man,” the symbolism of the woman wishing she was a man despite being a
real woman in all senses also brings out the theme of feminism. The modern
woman wants to be empowered and desires to be independent and free of all the
definitions society has placed on her. Using the symbol of being in her
husband’s body gives her access to all that a man has especially the
independence and responsibilities such as managing money and she feels
comfortable in such a role. Charlotte uses this symbol to push the women
empowerment theme by showing that women do not have to stick to the socially
created role of staying at home but can go out and take on the world just as
men can.

Still using the symbol of the relationship between
Dulcidio and his wives, Eduardo Galeano shows the dynamic of the relationship
between men and women when the man is taken with the woman and is now
vulnerable. 

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