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I am a writer and dreamer, currently working on blogs and a book series.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Meanings of the Elements: Water

Water is a precious resource to everyone.  For writers, it is a symbol that encompasses a tremendous amount of significance.

With mirrors and other reflective objects, water shares several meanings.  It can be used to show what the human eye cannot see, such as a character's true nature or spirits.  When a character gazes into water, this represents reflection of oneself physically, emotionally and mentally.  As with Lewis Carroll's character, Alice, alternate worlds can be entered through mirrors or water.  The same can be said for hidden rooms; in the adventures on Tintin, hidden caves are concealed behind waterfalls.

Water is a cleansing agent associated with purity.  We drink and wash with water to clean our bodies.  Writers often place their characters in showers or outside in the rain to demonstrate that they are cleansing themselves of a mistake or evil deed they have committed.  A famous example is of Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth who struggles to wash her hands of King Duncan's blood.

Viewers of romantic comedies will notice that when a relationship ends or has been damaged, writers once more place their characters in the rain to emphasize their sadness or despair.  It is a more dramatic alternative to making your character simply cry.

Alison Bechdel's comic drama Are You My Mother? is a memoir that focuses on psychology.  The cover features a mirror which illustrates her reflection upon her relationship with her mother.  A little is said about water at the beginning.  Alison has dreams about plunging into water.  This act represents the delving into a new chapter of one's life or a new endeavor.  Her book also states that water is connected to creativity.  In the article "A Shower a Day Keeps the Brain at Play: The Steamy Approach to Creativity," it reveals that "[i]n a study published in Nature Medicine in 2003, Rice and his colleagues found that stimulation of the uppermost cells of the epidermis, as happens during a shower, causes a release of beta- endorphins that act on nerve endings to cause a soothing sensation.  

            "Just the stimulation itself raises the awareness level of the brain," Rice says. "That triggers activity that can lead to something that is a new thought."

            "As we're sleeping, our brain rests and refreshes itself and puts information together that we've been processing from the day before," Rainer says. "While we're in the shower, and we have this little period of time in which we don't have to be busy with something, those ideas can often form themselves into."

Water is connected to both life and death.  We need enough water to survive, but a surplus of water kills either through natural disasters (flooding) or consumption (water intoxication).
As an example, see the following video from 4:16-6:00:


Ice is associated to, of course, reflection as well as emotional states such as numbness.  Ice can be a form of beauty, preservation and isolation.  Superman's Fortress of Solitude is a good example of isolation.  Writers put their characters in contact with cold water as a sign of shock or realization.  Having characters on frozen ice is a symbol of impending danger or a foreshadowing of danger and/or death.  Here is Madonna's song called Frozen:



Keyser, Tom. "A Shower a Day Keeps the Brain at Play: The Steamy Approach to Creativity." National Post: WP16. Feb 03 2007. ProQuest. Web. 28 Dec. 2015 .

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