Semiotic analysis of Winter by Tori Amos

Essay by YzarcknihtCollege, Undergraduate March 2004

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The song Winter by Tori Amos conveys the importance of independence and self actualization in life though levels of metaphors and imagery. Using semiotics to express deeper meanings, she gives a narrative account of life in which she never finds contentment due to childhood fatherly dependence and juvenile ideas of a fantastical adult life.

The song adopts a poignant musical style with slow tempo and piano as the major instrument which was uncommon for a pop song of the early nineties. Strong periods in the song are emphasized though the use of a cello and choir. The performer, Tori Amos, gives the song a feeling of wistful yearning with her soft voice which intensifies for dramatic points and calms to a whisper for more subtle expression. The first person perspective creates an intimate portrayal of Amos. The diction is that of a child, better describing the childish mindset of Amos in the song.

Using semiotics through multilayered indexical signs she tells an underlying story in which once the symbolism is known, the tale still cannot fully be comprehended without understanding what the imagery of the symbols represents.

Winter symbolizes childhood throughout the song, which she introduces in the first stanza as being a pleasant nostalgic memory. All relations to winter are references to childhood or childlike ideas. Amos' vocal style is calm during this segment to enhance the felling of comfort, though quickly becomes strong subsequently when an event arises. "Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown. I hear a voice, 'Your must learn to stand up for yourself cause I can't always be around" (Amos Lines 9-12), this represents a struggle in childhood at which the father makes clear the importance of self reliance and its necessity in life, a primary theme of the song. This struggle represented...