I know Symbolism as a literary art movement reacting to Romanticism, Realism, and Naturalism. Symbolism pursues intangible aesthetics of existence that defy literal interpretations. In a sense, Symbolism is the art of figurative language for depicting the undepictable through metaphor and analogy.
Getting into the figurative meaning of a story during reading requires a little more effort than casual readers generally like to make, so deep analogies and metaphors are not a best practice for building audience rapport. On the other hand, getting at a story's theme sometimes is easier to unravel by examining the motifs of a story. Some writers, readers, critics call motifs tropes, but prescriptively, a trope is typically not more than a few words or a passage in length. A term has emerged that some use, literary tropes, meaning an overarching extended analogy or allegory.
But it's motifs that are important for unraveling a thematic meaning. For a simplistic access to understanding motifs, consider a theme-oriented social event, say Cinco de Mayo. The motifs might then be Mexican foods, beverages, cervezas, decorations, apparel, etc.
A story about magic's perils might have motifs that depict the fallout of magic gone wrong, say, horrible disfigurements. A story about the hazzards of hubris might have motifs derived from the Seven Deadly Sins. A story about aging might have motifs from later life stage initiation trials, like creaky bones, dietary restrictions, worries about retirement, concerns about up and coming challengers eager to replace a character at the top of the hill, etc.
Motifs can be objects, settings, characters, events, ideas, etc. In my opinion, though, it's a best practice to have a central theme, moral, and message at some point in the writing process to unify a story in all its parts, especially its motifs. A keg of Irish porter would be discordant at a Cinco de Mayo party, for example.
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