Song of the Sea (2014)

Brief Intro

“Song of the Sea,” directed by Tomm Moore in 2014, is a captivating animated film that explores Irish folklore through the enchanting story of Ben and his selkie sister, Saoirse. This visually stunning film intertwines myth and reality, creating a magical narrative rich with literary devices and themes.

Literary Devices Used in Song of the Sea


Movie SceneDevice Example
Saoirse’s transformation into a sealRepresents her dual nature as a selkie
Ben’s journey to save SaoirseSymbolizes his personal growth


Movie SceneDevice Example
The seashell fluteConnection to their mother and heritage
The lighthouseGuidance and hope


Movie SceneDevice Example
Saoirse’s initial inability to speakHints at her selkie nature
Granny’s strictnessPredicts future conflicts


Movie SceneDevice Example
The animated owlsRepresent Macha’s influence
The ocean as a characterActs as a force guiding the protagonists


Movie SceneDevice Example
References to Irish folklore charactersIntegrates cultural myths
The song “Amhrán na Farraige”Evokes traditional Irish music


Movie SceneDevice Example
Ben’s questRepresents a journey of self-discovery
Macha’s transformationReflects the struggle of letting go


Movie SceneDevice Example
The exaggerated size of Macha’s owlsEmphasizes her power
Ben’s dramatic reaction to Granny’s rulesHighlights his rebellious nature


Movie SceneDevice Example
The depiction of the underwater worldVividly portrays the magical realm
The glowing lights leading SaoirseCreates an ethereal atmosphere


Movie SceneDevice Example
Ben initially resenting SaoirseEventually becomes her protector
Macha’s attempt to control emotionsEnds up causing more pain


Movie SceneDevice Example
Recurring seashellsSymbolize the connection to the sea
Frequent use of lullabiesRepresents comfort and tradition

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices


Literary DeviceExplanation
ForeshadowingHis initial resentment towards Saoirse hints at their eventual strong bond.
AllegoryBen’s journey symbolizes a rite of passage from childhood to maturity.


Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismHer selkie form symbolizes her connection to nature and the sea.
ImageryHer glowing presence often highlights her mystical nature.

Conor (Father)

Literary DeviceExplanation
IronyHis attempts to protect his children by distancing them from their heritage inadvertently puts them in danger.
MetaphorThe lighthouse he maintains symbolizes his role as a guide and protector.


Literary DeviceExplanation
HyperboleHer exaggerated strictness serves to highlight the conflict between old and new.
PersonificationHer character represents the conflict of tradition versus change.


Literary DeviceExplanation
AllegoryHer character represents the destructive nature of suppressing emotions.
SymbolismHer transformation symbolizes the release of pent-up grief and acceptance.

Character Dynamics

Ben and Saoirse’s evolving relationship drives the narrative, highlighting themes of family and acceptance. Conor’s protective nature contrasts with Granny’s rigidity, creating tension that propels the story. Macha’s interactions with the children underscore the film’s message about the importance of embracing emotions and heritage.

Thematic Analysis

Family Bonds

SymbolismThe seashell flute represents the unbreakable bond between the siblings and their mother.
ForeshadowingEarly scenes of family discord hint at the eventual reconciliation and strengthening of family ties.

Heritage and Identity

AllusionReferences to Irish folklore characters ground the story in cultural heritage.
MetaphorSaoirse’s transformation into a seal represents the struggle of embracing one’s true identity.

Emotional Suppression and Release

AllegoryMacha’s character arc symbolizes the harm of suppressing emotions and the healing power of expressing them.
HyperboleMacha’s exaggerated control over emotions highlights the theme’s importance.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
ImageryVisual DesignThe film’s vibrant and detailed animation brings the mystical world to life.
SymbolismSoundtrackThe use of traditional Irish music reinforces the cultural themes.
Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
PersonificationVoice ActingThe voice acting imbues the characters, especially the non-human ones, with distinct personalities.
MetaphorLightingThe use of light and shadow visually represents the characters’ internal struggles.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene 1: Saoirse’s Transformation

YouTube Link

Breakdown: This scene uses vivid imagery and symbolism to depict Saoirse’s transformation into a seal. The glowing lights and underwater visuals create a magical atmosphere, emphasizing her connection to the sea and her true identity.

Scene 2: Ben’s Journey

YouTube Link

Breakdown: Ben’s journey is rich with allegorical elements. As he faces various challenges, the scene uses foreshadowing and metaphor to illustrate his growth and the deepening bond with his sister.

Scene 3: Confrontation with Macha

YouTube Link

Breakdown: The confrontation scene highlights the theme of emotional suppression. Macha’s exaggerated control is depicted through hyperbole, while the dramatic visual and sound design enhance the allegorical message of the scene.


To engage your understanding of the literary devices in “Song of the Sea,” take this interactive multiple-choice quiz!

Quiz: Literary Devices in Song of the Sea

  1. Which literary device is used when Saoirse transforms into a seal?
  2. What does the seashell flute symbolize?
    • A) Power
    • B) Family connection
    • C) Fear
  3. How is foreshadowing used in the film?
    • A) By hinting at future events
    • B) Through exaggerated character traits
    • C) By referencing Irish folklore