Confession time: I am guilty of LOVING to over search deep meanings. I think that is part of a reader's rights.glorybee wrote: I love to have a few more people weigh in on the 'ownership' of a piece of writing. Does it mean only what the author meant it to mean? Or does it mean what the reader thinks it means?
Perhaps a little bit of both?
"We the reader retain the right to own, for our own use, whatsoever interpretation of meaning is gleaned, even if it was never intended by the writer. This right shall forever be an unending avenue of comfort to the reader who sees symbolism where there was none intended because then we can confirm hope in whatever interpretation lends itself to that hope."
Okay, so I just made that up. It does seem to me, though, that if a piece of writing is so well written that it has people scurrying to find deep meaning, then the author should be honored. I remember watching movies with my mother... the Super Meaning Finder of all time. We would watch a show like "Mary Poppins" over and over and over just so we could find every bit of symbolism we could muster. Most of it was never there at all, but we enjoyed finding it and justifying it as deeper than anyone else realized. For example, we have come to the conclusion that the reason Dick Van Dyke was given the part was because, even though it wasn't even invented when the movie came out, somebody was predicting that there would someday be a movie format with Dick Van Dyke's intials... DVD. That is so preposterous it goes far beyond embarassing. But it is a fun way for us to watch movies.
So, here is my valid question, or point, or whatever it ends up being. Is it all that bad to give the reader the freedom to enjoy your writing even though they missed the point you had intended? Maybe I don't see any symbolism at all. Maybe I see more than is there. A million readers are going to read our work a million different ways. That is just part of what we give the public when our work gets read.
If, like in the Dr Suess example, it is being used for something that is opposed to what we would want, then we can always let the public know what our personal intent had been. But people will still see whatever they need to see to meet their own needs.
By the way, Jan, I saw the bird and the flapping wings as a symbol of things in our life that we see and can identify but we have no control over.