The Pied Piper of Hamelin is the story describing the life of a particular city, and the way society copes with issues and follows certain patterns. There is also a number of symbols in the plot. They are used to touch upon significant problems and show some hidden motifs. Additionally, it tries to “contemplate the social arrangements” introduced by society (Stanley 29). The symbols of change, corruption, and unsafety are central to the story as they impact the plot.
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The Pied Piper comes to the town symbolizing the shift from one season to another; in a broader sense, he can be the symbol of change and its acceptance. The town looks bright yet mundane, and the lack of diversity symbolizes the unwillingness to change. The predominant colors are green (the trees), blue (the river), and gold/yellow (the wheat). The colors serve as the symbols of well-being and stability. The Piper looks very colorful (“Piped”) compared to the townsfolk. The difference in colors symbolizes the oncoming change. The Piper comes from spectacular places that the townsfolk has never seen.
The season in the story is most likely to take place from late spring to early autumn. The seasons symbolize the change that the town experiences. One can state it by the agricultural activities in the town. The activities are a symbol of the transitioning from one stage of development to another. The landscape is described as colorful and bright to symbolize the summer. It also serves as a contrast to the environment of the town. The process of harvest collection symbolizes the process of maturity.
The mayor represents the town, yet rather poorly due to his corrupt mindset. His richness is the symbol of corruption. Rats come to town because the mayor does nothing about the waste. Moreover, he deceives the Piper as he “refused to pay him his fee” (Pierce 383). The mayor can be described as self-centered and focused on wealth. The specified characteristics symbolize corrupted environment of the town. The townsfolk come to the mayor once the city is filled with rats and the citizens’ decision is symbolic of the need for change.
The Piper wears a “hat covered with feathers and shells and bones” (“The Pied Piper of Hamelin”). The colorful look of the Piper is symbolic of the change that he brings to the town. The children disappear inside a cold and dark mountain which can also be considered a reference to the “helplessness during maltreatment” (Stanley 30).
The mountain symbolizes the transfer to knowledge. All children disappear apart from the boy on crutches and it a symbol of the price that people pay for their unwillingness to change. The children see new colorful places which are the symbol of new experiences and knowledge. The sights are different because the river is sparkly, the air is clear, and the birds are colorful.
Having changed the town, the Piper goes to the places with “fun and games and whales and dolphins and bright coloured parrots” (“The Pied Piper of Hamelin”). The Piper’s leave is also a symbol of corruption disappearing from Hamelin. In general, through a chain of symbols mentioned above, the story touches upon the problems of change, danger, and corruption. These topics are important for society as they impact the lives of individuals belonging to it. The use of symbolic meanings helps to understand the main message better.
Pierce, Mark. “The Pied Piper: A Handbook.” Journal of American Folklore, vol. 125, no. 497, 2012, pp. 383-384. Web.
“The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” Storytell.com.au. Web.
Stanley, Roseman. “The Pied Piper of Hamelin: Folklore Encounters Malevolent Cults.” American Journal of Psychoanalysis, vol. 60, no. 1, 2000, pp. 29-55. Web.