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Nancy Gish wrote:
> 
> No.  I think the water in the Thames is water.  So is the sea for
> Tristan and Isolde and the damp hair of the Hyacinth girl.  But water is
> often read as symbolic, as is pretty much everything.  I was only
> commenting on your separating it out from the other elements that are
> also used for opposites.

Yes, I'm all for applying Ockham's Razor in identifying symbolism. 

An additional distinction not always or even often made is between
something which is symbolic _for the reader_ and something which is
symbolic _for one or more characters_ within the work. This is probably
not relevant to TWL, since the controlling narrative is too slight to
allow for that kind of relationship, but consider the Whale in Moby
Dick. I would argue that _for the reader_ the whale is merely a whale
(hence all the chapters focused on the business of whaling) but a symbol
_for the  various characters_, particularly of course Ahab but also for
a number of other characters who are shown actively trying to decipher
what the whale means. The importance/significance of those struggles to
decipher is blurred unless the reader sees the whale simply as a whale,
just as Nancy suggests the Thames is water. 

I would tentatively suggest, however, that while there is no symbolic
signficance to the Thames as water there is significance to it as a
highway, linking together different sectors of London. The echo of
Spenser is interesting: The Prothalamion was a political poem, and in it
(as in a number of major English poems including Windsor Forest and the
Dunciad) the Thames _is_ both England itself and England's connectins to
the outer world (specifically in Spenser's poem, England's defeat of
Spain).

Carrol