A-Z Day 11: Keys and Their Symbolisms

Keys are important objects in our daily lives, though never give them a second thought. They open doors, and beyond those doors are things that provide us with comfort or happiness. Without our house keys, for instance, we wouldn’t be able to get into our homes and see our families. Without our car keys, we wouldn’t get anywhere. Without the keys to our safe, we wouldn’t be able to get the important things we’ve kept hidden.

Keys are powerful symbols in any story.  They symbolize opening and closing powers—for instance, when a character might use a key to lock someone in, depriving that person of his freedom. Or the character might use a key to unlock the door and free whoever is inside.

The above example just shows the physical power of a key. But keys also have metaphysical powers and symbolisms. They represent knowledge, mystery, initiation and curiosity.

Mystery comes in the form of secrets hidden behind locked chests, or locked doors. Knowledge can be in the form of a secret learned, wisdom unlocked through discovery. When someone is initiated into a secret society, they are given knowledge that was previously hidden to them, and allowed into the folds of a life they only imagined behind closed doors.

Keys can also mean initiation into a new way of life, or a way into some form of success. A family who just bought a house are handed keys to their new homes.

A woman who has purchased the car of her dreams is lifted into a whole new status when she is handed the car keys.

A man who just won the lottery holds the key to a bright future in the form of  the lottery ticket.

Keys are also a status symbol—the more keys one has, the more properties they have.

More importantly, keys can be a symbol of power. When the mayor hands the keys to the city to a hero, it means that the hero has risen from a mere citizen to an influential and important part of the community.

When someone gives you the keys to their heart, you hold power over them, whether they like it or not.

The key to a good story lies in the author’s hand. He/she must find a way to tell a good story, and to weave the story beautifully. Beyond this, every author must find the key to the story itself–something that opens a door into a new plot twist or experience.

Every character is a KEY KEEPER. They hold a secret in their minds or hearts, and it is up to them to share the keys to their inner secrets. Look at your own stories. What are the key plot points, the key scenes? How about your characters? What is the key to their success, their happiness, their hearts?

Perhaps in discovering the keys to our characters’ happiness, we might also find the key to ours.

Great Key Quotes

a good friend is a connection to life- a tie to the past,a road to the future,the key to sanity in a totally insane world– Lois Wyse

“The Key to wisdom is knowing all the right questions.” – John A. Simone Sr.

Love is the master key which opens the gates of happiness. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

The key to your universe is that you can choose. – Frederick Frieseke

All our lives we live in chains and never even know we hold the key.

To will is to select a goal, determine a course of action that will bring one to that goal, and then hold to that action till the goal is reached. The key is action.

The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.– Brian Tracy

In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

To hide the key to your heart is to risk forgetting where you placed it. – Timothy Childers

Love is everything. It is the key to life, and its influences are those that move the world. Ralph Waldo Trine

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.– Herman Cain


The Symbolism of the Key – Tylluan Penry

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23 Responses to “A-Z Day 11: Keys and Their Symbolisms”

  1. Talli Roland says:

    Love this post! This is a great K word — and fantastic quotes, too.

  2. I bet you’re the only person to choose “key” for the “K” challenge. Good quotes.
    When I think of literature, I think of the first Harry Potter book when he has to catch the flying key like a snitch.

  3. Joy says:

    Didn’t realize all the nuances the word ‘key’ carries. Great quotes to cement what you’ve shared here.

  4. Bish Denham says:

    Very nice post. There are islands call keys (also spelled cay) that can hold a hidden treasure chest that has to have a key to open it! :)

  5. Wow. Great, great post!! :-)

  6. mish says:

    Hey Nutschell ~~ great choice for K-Day !! Some important points to ponder & memorable quotes ~~ thanks for sharing !!

  7. Thoughtful post. You’ve brought out some ideas I hadn’t really considered before, but will now. Thanks!

  8. K.C. Woolf says:

    Great post, both informative and inspiring. Good quotes, too, especially the Frieseke and Cain ones.

  9. Jules says:

    Loved this post and the great quotes but.. after reading your definitions to keys and their meaning… well I need some new keys :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  10. Lynn Kelley says:

    Excellent post. Great quotes. I love the things you come up with, Nutschell! I’m going to share this on my FB because it’s so unique.

  11. Maria Toth says:

    I LOVE this post and all of your key quotes, Nutschell! Especially this one… “All our lives we live in chains and never even know we hold the key.” Thanks for posting this one. I’ll make a copy to remind myself that I hold the key to my own writing success! :-)

  12. Found this by your comment you posted to my blog. I really liked this post!

  13. E.J. Wesley says:

    Wonderful post on symbolism! Just curious, do you think most of symbolism in writing comes from accident or intent? Meaning do you think authors intentionally set things up that way, or is it something readers come up with?

    Very nice to meet you, and I can’t wait to read more of your thoughts!


    • nutschell says:

      Thanks EJ! It’s great meeting you too! It’s nice to think that authors put a lot of effort into coming up with symbolisms in their stories. I know I try. But sometimes, readers pick up on symbolisms that the author might not have intended, or that might have been hidden to the author himself. that’s the great thing about a good story–it’s open to so many interpretations and anyone can come up with whatever symbolisms they like.

  14. walk2write says:

    What a great, uplifting post! Keys are things I’m always looking for when I’m in a hurry. Either I need to slow down or get them surgically attached.

    Thanks for stopping by to say hi the other day!

  15. Thanks for stopping by my blog during the A-Z challenge. You sure do love photos. I bet Keri Russell is shorter than Tom Cruise. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of stick fighting. My blog has finally been updated since I last posted (a whole month ago). Well, see you around!

  16. Suzanne says:

    You really did a lot of research for this post. Very comprhensive. I enjoye reading this.

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