Hidden Symbols In Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic

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All authors place symbols within their writings to apply hidden meanings that correspond with certain characters. Writer Alice Hoffman’s brilliant novel, Practical Magic contains many symbolic items. Some readers are unable to connect the emblematic pieces to a specific character. Others are able to identify the exact objects that are connected to certain people in a book. Three symbols in Hoffman’s Practical Magic that are easy to identify are the dove heart, the lilacs, and the thorns. These items are mentioned on multiple occasions throughout the entire novel, this is to show that they are of great importance to the protagonists. Alice does this to allow her readers to discover the hidden symbols quickly, and easily.
The first symbol to be introduced in the story is
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He does not want Gillian and Sally to “get away” with what they did to him, he wants them to suffer. Alice describes his attitude,
He’s wrecking things just by snapping his fingers. He’s making things fall apart. Inside the walls, the pipes are rusting. The tile floor in the basement is turning to dust. The coils of the refrigerator have been twisted, and nothing will stay fresh… (Hoffman 131).
Jimmy wanted to win, he thought if he was violent enough he could get rid of Sally and Gillian. Just as thorns choke out other plants, Jimmy attempted to choke out the girls. Desire is a strong theme in Alice Hoffman’s novel Practical Magic. Each character has a reason for wanting an item, or person. There are many symbols that represent the needs of the main characters. A dove’s heart stands for the love and affection that is shared between two people. Lilacs represent strength, and that one can grow even during difficult times. Thorns mean that everything has an end, and that even the strongest people will have to fight to try and survive. These symbols represent various aspects of life, and the paths that each individual can
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