Joyas Voladoras


The essay “Joyas Voladoras” by Brian Doyle speaks of hummingbirds and hearts, the life of whales and the life of man, it speaks of life, death and the experiences in between, in other words it examines the similarity of every creature on Earth. When reading the essay once cannot help but be immersed into the distinct imagery created by Doyle. He elaborates on the fierceness of life embodied in hummingbirds and creates a strong image of a small beating heart for the reader, a heart beating infinitesimally but strongly, faster even than our own. He elaborates both scientifically and at times metaphorically, he structures this particular piece of prose in such a way that people who read it should not concentrate on the scientific, for that is all that they will see, but rather they should examine the essay in terms of the metaphoric.

The essay is practically filled with metaphorical symbolism such as the phrase “the animals with the largest hearts in the world generally travel in pairs”, while scientific in appearance, is in fact a metaphor for love in which the essay states that people with love in their hearts are never alone. Even references to the humming bird are in fact another metaphoric symbolism of the abruptness of love and the value which we should place on it. Based off the various metaphorical symbols seen throughout the essay it can be said that the essay in its entirety is symbolic of the different kinds of love in the world and they way it is experienced.

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Symbolism of the Hummingbird

If one were to interpret the different animals portrayed in the essay as different aspects of love then the hummingbird can be symbolic of the concept of Eros or “erotic love”. This type of love is more commonly associated with the first stages of a relationship wherein the love is based on physical traits, intense passion and sudden affection. The intensity of the hummingbird’s beating heart is actually symbolic of the passionate intensity of love based on Eros. In fact the description of a “flying jewel” attributed to the humming bird is actually similar to manner in which love based on Eros is considered to be flamboyant and obvious. Yet similar to a hummingbird love based on Eros alone does not last, it burns brightly just like the life of a hummingbird yet in a short span of time fizzles out.

In fact Doyle states that this particular love is the worst kind to have since he symbolizes the people who are addicted to this type of love as experiencing emotional turmoil and heartache as symbolized by the heart of the hummingbird slowing down when it comes to rest. The line “if they do not soon find that which is sweet, their hearts grow cold, and they cease to be” is actually symbolic of the way in which people who prefer Eros love are actually addicted to the concept of loving and being loved forever moving from lover to lover just like a hummingbird moves from flower to flower.

Symbolism of the Whale

The symbolic nature of the whale as type of love for Doyle takes the form of Philos namely a type of love which is based on the friendship between two people. While the phrase “the animals with the largest hearts in the world generally travel in pairs” is indicative of Philos love other aspects of this particular type of love are also apparent. An examination of the type of grammar used by Doyle in describing the hummingbird and the whale shows that for the humming bird Doyle uses action gerund words which utilize the word “and” rather than a comma. The result of such grammatical usage is thus an almost breathless mannerism in which readers read the parts detailing the life of a hummingbird. This is actually symbolic of the breathless nature of Eros love wherein those who ascribe to it find themselves flitting from action to action without heed or care.

On the other hand when describing the blue whale, Doyle actually utilizes exceedingly long sentences and traditional words interspaced with commas which actually have the effect of slowing down the reader. This is intentional on the part of the author since Philos type love is a form of love that begins after a long and successful friendship. It is a type of love that builds up over time creating strong affection, emotions and a feeling of longing to be with that person. The nature of the size of whale hearts is actually symbolic of the strong emotions and love that build up over time resulting in a type of relationship where two people stay together for a life time.


Based off what has been presented in this paper it can be seen that one aspect of the essay “Joyas Voladoras” by Brian Doyle is that it uses symbolism in order to express the concepts of Eros and Philos. While the essay does possess other forms of symbolism these particular aspects were chose since they help to relay the message of the author that there are different types of love out there, each having its own unique characteristics.

It is due to viewing the essay in this particular way that the continuous use of the word “heart” can thus be interpreted as symbolic of people continuously searching for love with the author warning in the ending of the possible pain that comes with this search.


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