Symbolism in Novel Covers | Teen Ink

Symbolism in Novel Covers

November 3, 2009
By Ashleigh909 GOLD, Buford, Georgia
Ashleigh909 GOLD, Buford, Georgia
14 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The night is the darkest just before the dawn."

Covers play an important role in the symbolism of novels. They contain crucial information to the reader. They have the author’s name, a title-which may or may not symbolize something in the story- and it also usually, on modern books, has some form of cover art. The best books to use as examples for this symbolism of novel covers are the Twilight Saga novels. The cover art of each book symbolize their plot, as do the titles. Also, the titles of each book, except the last novel, are mentioned in the books themselves.
The cover of the first book, Twilight, shows the picture of a pair of hands grasping an apple. The apple, according to author Stephenie Meyer, represents the “forbidden fruit” fruit from the book of Genesis in the bible, the story of Adam and Eve. Bella and Edward want to be together, but Edward is afraid of hurting Bella; he is afraid he will lose control and bite her, which would be bad for both of them. In his eyes, because Edward thinks that vampires loose their souls upon becoming immortal, and he does not want that at all for Bella. He wants to make sure that she experiences every possible human experience before he had to change her, which was inevitable.
The title, Twilight, represents Bella’s life entering its “night”, when she is surrounded by danger and dark, evil forces. Bella was a girl that was used to the sun, and at the beginning of the book, when she moves to forks to live with her dad; she is uncomfortable with of the change, both figuratively and literally, from hot, dry Phoenix, Arizona to cold Forks, Washington, where it is always raining. The use of the setting as its own character in the series is shown throughout all of the novels. For instance, in New Moon, Bella refers to Jacob as her personal sun, not only because he was physically hot, but because he helped give her own personal dark ages a little light. The placement of the title in the book is a quote from Edward Cullen, and he is talking to Bella about how “twilight is the safest time of day” for him, and also other vampires and nightly creatures, which in the next book also includes Jacob and the werewolves.
The cover of the second book, New Moon, is a little trickier to explain. The cover art of Twilight was actually the only cover designed by author Stephenie Meyer, but she guessed that the withering flower represents Bella and her life withering away while she was torn between remembering and loving Edward and her strong friendship with Jacob. The title of the book is easier to decipher than the actual cover art. A new moon is when no part of the moon is visible and it gives off no light as a result. The actual title of New Moon symbolizes the darkest period of Bella’s life, or what she refers to as her “own personal dark ages.” It was the period when she was so depressed that she barely talks to anyone, and she will do anything to see his face by way of an adrenaline rush, even if it means diving off a cliff into a rip tide or crashing her motorcycle. The placement of the title is actually very helpful in finding the symbolism of the title. Right after Edward leaves, Bella looks up at the night sky and thinks to herself that it is a new moon, and that starts her depression state, which dissipates over time due to her being around her sun, Jacob.
Eclipse’s cover is nice and simple. The red ribbon with the tear, with the rest of the ribbon holding on by a thread, represents Bella parting with the aspects of her human life; her parting with her parents, her schooling, her heartbeat, and most importantly, her Jacob. On all of the covers, many colors are repeated, but only red is on all of them. Red most likely represents Bella, and that conclusion is reached by the fact that the only color, really, on the Eclipse cover is red and the red ribbon represents Bella’s life. The title Eclipse does have something to do with the moon, but it also has another meaning; it means passing or getting over something, like a problem or conflict. In this situation, Bella, Edward, and Jacob have to put aside all differences to help save Bella from the army of newborn vampires Victoria has raised to kill her. Jake and Edward get over their werewolf/vampire differences to protect Bella, but each for their own reasons. Bella still holds a little negativity towards Jacob after he kisses her, but she finally gets over it and Edward and Jake are on better terms with each other as well as her. The sentence in the novel in which the title is mentioned is when Jake is talking to Bella after the big fight against the newborns, when he says, “Clouds I can handle, but I can’t compete with an eclipse,” and Jacob is talking about not being able to compete against Edward for Bella’s heart.
Breaking Dawn is the last and longest novel of the Twilight Saga. It is also the only one in which the title is not actually used. The cover of the book has a picture of two chess pieces on a large chess board; the symbolism of this cover is the game of life that Bella, Jacob and Edward are playing all the time. Bella, in Jacob’s view, is losing this game, and Edward is the catalyst behind it. When Bella has Renesmee, and becomes a vampire, she has completely lost the game in Jake’s eyes, but in her eyes, she is just adding another piece to the puzzle. The title Breaking Dawn means that the “night’ of Bella’s life is over, the big battle that started with the vampires and the werewolves and the danger, that’s all over now, and it is now a bright, sunny morning. Also, the title goes along with the saying “the night is darkest just before the dawn”, and in this case, it is very true. Edward thinks he was too late to save Bella when she didn’t move during her transformation, and that caused the most grief mentioned in the books among the family and the werewolves, but especially for Bella and Edward’s daughter, Renesmee. Everything comes together for a perfect ending to a perfect series; well, at least in the eyes of all of those who are Team Edward.
The Twilight Saga is the series I used to illustrate the symbolism of novel covers, it’s true, but a reader would be amazed by how may novels and series’ titles mean more than meets the eye. Hopefully, now when readers are reading, they will think about just how deep these aspects of the authors’ imagination will go. When you create your story, make everything your own, and that is true for every single aspiring or famous author you will ever find.

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This article has 3 comments.

on Aug. 13 2016 at 1:40 pm
gracemsaw BRONZE, White Castle, Louisiana
1 article 0 photos 3 comments
This is a great article. I never realized how symbolism could be used in book covers before. I've never read the Twilight series before, but I have seen all the movies and the book covers. I never realized the book covers and titles related to the story before. I'll make sure to look for symbolism like this in books I read in the future.

on Jun. 7 2011 at 4:00 pm
Ashleigh909 GOLD, Buford, Georgia
14 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The night is the darkest just before the dawn."

Thanks so much!

on Jun. 7 2011 at 11:18 am
JoPepper PLATINUM, Annandale, Virginia
35 articles 0 photos 782 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Freedom is the ability to not care what the other person thinks."

"Not all those who wander are lost" --JRR Tolkien

"When you are listening to music it is better to cover your eyes than your ears." --Jose' Bergamin

Very well written I like it.  I love the title pictures for the twilight saga.  I love the series too.  Keep writing!!!!!