Rain Symbolism: What is its Meaning in Literature?

By Editorial Team Last updated: Oct 12, 2023

Rain Symbolism: What is its Meaning in Literature?

Literature is one of the art forms having a diverse range of symbols. Symbols have been used in literary works by various authors throughout history. The symbols will not go unnoticed by anyone who enjoys literature. For others who are unfamiliar with the field, it could be a different story. The main goal of using symbols that can be found in many works of literature is to draw the attention of individuals who like reading them.

Poets, for example, frequently have a central theme in their work. It could be anything ranging from personal experiences to global events. Symbolism aids individuals in expressing a secondary meaning for what they wish to say. Symbols, on the other hand, fill in the gaps. When someone couldn't grasp anything in a normal way, they used symbols to interpret it.
Using symbols, on the other hand, might be difficult for both the writer and the reader. They may necessitate in-depth examination. However, there are a few that are fairly visible and can be seen from afar. Water is a symbol that appears frequently in literature. Water can take various shapes, but it is always water. Words like waterfalls, lakes, rivers, streams, and rain are frequently used by authors. As a result, there are many diverse ways to perceive water as a symbol in literature.

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Water has several obvious connotations in life. Even in the streets, water is associated with life, birth, purity, cleaning, and, in spiritual issues, the washing away of sins. Water is a very important requirement in life. Water is frequently referred to as "life" or "a source of life." It has to do with life and growth, as well as birth and rebirth. Baptisms in water are used by Christians to represent spiritual death and resurrection. To put it another way, it's an obvious emblem for spiritual birth. In literature, life is formed as rain falls; it also connotes a spiritual birth.
April is regarded as the cruelest month for residents of these locations in the modern wasteland. They like winter or spiritual death because it implies rebirth. This is because a rebirth also contains the significance of their efforts – any spiritual effort is not properly received – a new life grows in the landscape in the spring. But that doesn't help matters because it merely stirs up square roots. That is to say, if the earth is a wasteland, it will not yield anything.

Eliot, for example, utilizes the protagonist Tiresias to convey something fascinating about modern humans. Tiresias is a devoted traveler descended from a German aristocrat. His ties to his kin, including family and community, have been severed. His existence is centered on the physical delights that life has to give. Eliot employs these ties to explain culture, actual life, spirituality, and morality. He demonstrates how the modern person is similar to the German royal. People today live in a physical environment and are cut off from religious and moral paths. Winter arrives in Munich, bringing with it a deluge of rain. Even that comes as a surprise to them, as they fail to recognize the cleansing power of rain and instead flee for cover. Rain's cleansing and fertilizing properties are merely an annoyance to her.

The subject of what rain symbolizes can be approached from a variety of perspectives. Shelly, another brilliant poet, brings out a new perspective of rain. Rain originates from the cloud in her poem "Cloud," before renewing in the earth. As the birds enjoy dewy mornings on the buds, Cloud transforms into this gardener who quenches the thirst of lovely flowers with rain. It becomes a sign of a bumper crop. Rain is the core of life and existence in this piece, in contrast to Elliot's work, where people stare to the side, oblivious to how strong the rain is. When the lovely drops of rain begin to fall, all they do is run helter-skelter in search of shelter.

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In the verses of Tiresias, the spiritual barrenness and mortality of modern civilisation is an obvious sign. The landscape of modern civilization looks to be nothing more than a shell of stones, with dead trees and dry stones devoid of the sound of water. Spiritual despair has settled upon humanity as a whole. Eve surprised herself when she discovered her roots in her book, "4 Paradise Lost," by another famous writer Milton. As her picture appears in the water, her relationship with Adam is revived. She's on a quest to learn more about herself. Her voice informs her that she is the mother of humanity. Looking in the water to recognize something symbolizes Eve's growing awareness of her own existence. It is a symbol of being conscious of one's birth. The preceding stories reveal two things. Tiresias, on one hand, surveys and finds nothing. Eve, on the other hand, discovers her image in the water, which leads to self-discovery.

The Egyptians were the first to employ the Tarot Pack of 78 cards to foretell the rise of water in the Nile River, which was thought to represent the return of fertility. That is the polar opposite of what we are seeing now. The cards are only used for fortune reading, which is completely bogus and unlawful. A narrative about Madame Sosostris telling fortunes to a client who may or may not be a protagonist is obvious proof of this deception. The drowned Phoenician sailor represents the fertility deity. The god's effigy was tossed into the river to represent the end of summer. The narrative of the drowning Phoenician is similar to the English King Fisher legend. His wound causes the soil to be infertile. This case could be a harbinger of a scourge that afflicted Europe in the twentieth century.

"Beware of drowning" is a cautionary phrase that warns people to avoid dying in the same way as the Phoenician traveler. It also reveals the truth about the current world's fortune tellers' trickery. Not only that, but the warning also cautions people that there are other ways to die by water, referring to the spiritual dryness that has descended upon the wasteland. Water symbolism in literature is explored further in William Wordsmith's poems. His poem "The Prelude," in instance, refers to a lake, which is another way of referring to water. He recalls his childhood as a boy, when he had both freedom and imprisonment. He was then an inquisitive young man who borrowed a shepherd's boat for a night voyage. As he rows deeper into the lake, an image of a precipice arises in his thoughts. This cliff's ascent sends shivers down his spine. The lake appears to be sparkling clear among the mountains, piqueing the interest of a small boy.

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The lake's inviting and calm atmosphere is difficult to resist. Wordsmith can no longer contain his desire and goes for a ride in a boat. However, the mysterious incident he watches deep in the waters makes him terrified and unhappy of the once secure waters. He set out on a joyful journey that quickly turned into a terrifying rollercoaster as he battled to return. Even though the lake is still serene and peaceful, his chest has been bothered by a change. Both freedom and entrapment are clearly defined in this passage. Wordsmith is too young to row far enough to get away from a lake he once thought was serene and lovely.

Related: The Complete Guide to Writing a Critical Essay and Literature Analysis by Pacific Lutheran University. 

Rain has a wide range of interpretations. It's a symbolism with a wide range of meanings that may be applied in a variety of contexts. Let's look at some of the most common meanings of rain and how it's depicted in literature and film.


Rain not only physically removes the dirt and grime, but it also cleanses the mind. Rain symbolism is frequently found in films, where it is portrayed as a cathartic aspect that cleanses the soul. It serves as a redemptive experience that can release one's soul and clear one's mind of any negative ideas and feelings. Rain, on the other hand, is beneficial for cleaning the air and reducing pollution. Have you ever noticed how clean the air is following a rainstorm? You'll most likely be able to see for kilometers, something that was previously impossible.

Sadness and depression emotions

Rain can also play a negative effect in the sense that it can cause feelings of despair and depression. It's dark when it rains, which can bring out pessimism and empower unpleasant feelings and thoughts. That's why, when it rains, you could get the blues. Rain is scientifically shown to create feelings of sadness, which is why so many people dislike it. Rain's negative connotation is frequently represented in films to evoke melancholy, misery, and depression.


Rain has a relaxing effect, which may come as a surprise. It could even be a symbol of calmness when it pours gently and there is no wind. That's not the case when a storm passes through and sweeps everything in its path. It makes us want to hide indoors and think about ourselves and our environment. While others may not enjoy it, it provides a fantastic opportunity for individuals to examine their emotions more closely. Rain is also a welcome sight for many people who are trying to sleep. When you're attempting to fall asleep or relax after a stressful day, listening to raindrops fall on the window sill can be soothing.


Rain is frequently an impediment to reaching a larger purpose. Being outside when it rains may be rather uncomfortable, therefore it discourages us from going outside in the first place. As a result, it has developed the reputation of being a symbol of negativity and an impediment. However, in movies, it's often employed as a symbol to represent a character's mental fortitude and drive to overcome a difficulty.

Growth and Rebirth

Life on Earth would be impossible without rain and water. It keeps the life cycle alive by assisting the growth of flowers and species on Earth. It provides them with fluids in order for them to stay alive, grow, and continue the life cycle. Lakes would dry up and oceans would drain if there wasn't enough rain. And life on Earth would be practically impossible if there was no water. Even though it is unpleasant when it rains, it is vital for our survival and the survival of other creatures. This concept of rebirth is emphasized even more at the conclusion of a rainstorm, when the rainbow appears and the clouds part to reveal the sun and a whole new day.


Rain makes the earth fertile. People used to rely on rain to help them grow their crops when they didn't have irrigation systems. However, if it did not rain, their crops would not grow, resulting in destitution and hunger. Today, we have devised a variety of plant-growing techniques, but rain is still required for development and fertility. The rain symbol was utilized by some Indian peoples and Egyptians to represent fertility, and it was commonly considered as a symbol of good luck that would help them grow more crops and live more comfortably.


The weather changes when it rains. "The sun always shines after the rain," according to a well-known proverb, implying that rain is required for positive change to occur. We can associate that with practically all of our life's challenges. It may be challenging at first, but it is very necessary for us to adapt and grow. There would be no difference if it didn't rain.


Have you ever considered what rain might mean? Rain is often connected with negative emotions, but it can also have a variety of other connotations. Rain denotes purification, tranquility, growth and fertility, and even rebirth. Rain is also a popular symbol for literature writers who utilize it as a foreshadowing symbol. It's often used in love settings, but it's also used to show a protagonist's mental fortitude. Rain is depicted in literature as both life-giving and life-threatening, depending on how society views it. It is apparent that the modern world has lost touch with its spirituality and values, rendering water useless.


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