The Importance of Symbolism in Princess Mononoke

For my paper, I am going to delve a bit deeper into the symbolism of Princess Mononoke. I believe that Miyazaki uses specific characters, scenes, dialogue, and symbols that express the relationship between humans and nature that aren’t explicitly noted in the film. 

            I will introduce my paper with a brief definition and explanation on the relationship with humans and nature. This will introduce the film into the paper as being a symbolic example of humans and nature. My thesis will be “Although Princess Mononoke is an animated film, through its use of symbolic references and images one can see the relation of humans and the natural world in the realistic world outside the realm of the film”.

            In the first part of the paper I will summarize the film, focusing on the aspects of the relationship of humans and nature from the symbols. For example, I will skip some of the unimportant dialogue and focus on discussing the scenes that include the “evil muck” that infects the creatures and eventually the land and San.

            I will then discuss the kind of relationship that we humans must have with nature in order to live fulfilled lives. I will use sources such as articles from Taking Sides (an environmental ethics compilation) and various other articles that I have accumulated to discuss these relationships.

            The next part of my paper, I will describe each symbol that I identify from the film, and how each character, creature, scene, or object relates the philosophy of nature and human relationships.

            Finally, the last part of my paper will be a wrap-up of my paper, along with my thesis. I will conclude with describing the importance of maintaining a relationship with nature, even if it means the destruction of industry and other commodities that we have relied on for survival.



Goldman, Rebecca L. “Ecosystem Services: How People Benefit from Nature”. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2007. 44-53. Print.

            I will use this article to describe the many ecosystems of the natural world. This article shows how specific ecosystems are important to human development and growth, and I can describe the citizen of Irontown wanting to create a sustainable environment within the ecosystem.

Attenborough, David. “This Heaving Planet”. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2007. 246-251. Print.

            This article explains the problems of the growing population, which includes the destruction of the environment because of human influence. I will use this article to show how the humans in Princess Mononoke are affecting the natural environemt.

Berry, Wendell. What Matters. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010. Print.

            Berry explains the importance of work and culture for a community to survive. I will not only explain the community of Irontown, but also the community of the spirits of the forest and how they must too work for their species’ survival.

Berghoefer, Uta, Ricardo Rozziand Kurt Jax. Many Eyes on Nature: Diverse Perspectives in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve and Their Relevance for Conservation”. Ecology and Society. Vol. 15, No. 1. Leipzig: The Resilience Alliance, 2010. 28, July 2013. Web.

            This online article explains the importance of the relationship between humans and nature. I will use this article to focus on how nature is something that humans should tend and care for.

Brown, Peter G. & Geoffrey Garver. “Humans & Nature: The Right Relationship”. Minding Nature. April 2009, Vol. 2, No. 1. Center for Humans and Nature, 2009.—nature–the-right-relationship-article-38.php?issue=5. 28, July 2013. Web.

            This article will help me to explain why humans should have a relationship with nature. Brown and Garver give specific examples of the relationships with the land that we already promote. This article, along with the film’s symbols, will help me explain the importance of the human/nature relationship maintenance.


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