Wolf Symbolism

Symbolism of Wolf in Literature

Wolf as symbolism in literature has always been prominently used in various cultures in the form of art as well as folklore and mythologies. Wolves are known for their keen senses and ability to survive in the wilderness, symbolizing freedom and intuition. Wolves also live in packs and have been famously shown for their loyalty and pack mentality in the famous literary work, The Jungle Book, where the protagonist Mowgli is raised by the wolves. Additionally, wolves are apex predators in their natural habitat, considered symbolic of survival and prey. In artworks, a wolf is depicted as symbol of evil and loyalty. The word ‘wolf’ is derived from the Old English word ‘Wulf’, which has roots in the German and Dutch word ‘Wolf’ and was sourced from the Greek word ‘Lukos’ and the Latin word ‘Lupus.’  A few wolf symbolisms with meaning are given below.


In Native American culture, the wolf is a totem animal, symbolizing guidance and protection. The black wolf is a symbol of protection. According to the Bible, Christians considered wolves a symbol of protection due to their nature of protecting their pack fiercely. In the Southwest United States, Pueblo tribes believe wolves symbolize protection and healing.

Cunningness & Intelligence

In China, the wolf symbolizes cunningness, communication, and loyalty. According to Christianity wolf is a symbol of intelligence and cunning. Christians also considered wolves a symbol of evil. The phrase ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ is one of the famous Bible quotes used to describe fake Christians.


In one of the groups of Christianity, the red color wolf symbolizes purity and sacrifice. According to African culture, the red wolf symbolizes bravery, power, and strength. The Arctic natives believe that the white wolf represents intuition and spirituality. The grey wolf symbolizes the relationships because grey wolves always live in groups together and are rarely seen outside the pack. Yellow or Golden wolf represents happiness and creativity.


Native Americans believe dreaming about red wolves symbolizes strength, courage, and wisdom. In a dream, killing a wolf symbolizes success in the future. White wolves in dreams symbolize good leadership skills and teamwork. Dreaming of attacking a wolf represents a warning sign of danger.

Loyalty & Friendship

In Celtic folklore, wolves symbolize loyalty, and they are considered high-value creatures. In Native American mythology, wolfs represent strength, loyalty, and great courage. In German and Norse mythology wolf is a symbol of destruction and death. The grey wolf symbolizes relationships and friendship. In Austria, wolves are considered a symbol of loyalty and friendship as they bond with the members of their pack or family.

Mythology & Folklore

In Chinese folklore, the wolf symbolizes strength, power, and loyalty. Native American culture, especially Navajo folklore, and wolves were feared as witches. The North American Pawnee Indians are one of the tribes, and according to the Pawnee, folklore wolf represents the great spirit. It is believed that Tirawa placed the wolf spirit in the sky as the guardian of the moon. In Ancient Irish mythology and folklore, wolfs considered protectors and guardians. Celtic mythology symbolizes the wolf as a spiritual guide, and it can take intuition and inner wisdom. In Nordic mythology, the wolf symbolizes the demoniac god Loki’s son associated with a wolf. Loki’s son’s name is Fenrir, with his physical appearance resembling an evil wolf. According to European folklore, men turning into a werewolf is widespread. It is known as lycanthropy or the ability to transform into a wolf.  In Norse mythology, wolves represent strength, cunning, and aggression.

Wolves in pop culture

Some of the films in pop culture symbolize the wolf’s nature and style. In the film Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, the character Jacob Black transform into a wolf, and he represents a connection to nature, loyalty, and protection. The Wolf of wall street movie symbolizes the wolf’s cunning and aggressive nature. The title character Jordan Belfort is predatory and dominant, resembling a wolf as well. In one of the TV series in pop culture, Game of Thrones, the character of the Stark family’s dire wolves symbolizes loyalty and strength. Also similar to Twilight, films such as the Underworld series associate wolves with vampires.


Wolf is also a symbol of survival because wolves survive better as a group than outside the pack. In indigenous traditions, wolves are associated with endurance and adaptability. According to  Japanese culture, the legendary wolf Okami is a symbol of protection, guardian, and survival. In Celtic mythology, the wolf represents a perfect warrior and survival of the fittest.

Examples of Water as Symbolism in Literature

Example #1

The Last Wolf By Mary TallMountain

The last wolf hurried toward me
through the ruined city
and I heard his baying echoes

down the steep smashed warrens
of Montgomery Street and past
the ruby-crowned highrises
left standing
their lighted elevators useless

In this poem, the poet expresses her sadness about the declining wildlife, especially wolves who lost their natural habitat to the growing city and buildings. Here the wolf symbolizes survival and abandonment.

Example #2

The Wolf’s Postscript to Little Red Riding Hood by Agha Shahid Ali

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,

for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn’t wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn’t speak to strangers.
And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn’t I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle?
Why did I ask her where her grandma lived?
As if I, a forest-dweller,
didn’t know of the cottage
under the three oak trees
and the old woman lived there
all alone?
As if I couldn’t have swallowed her years before?
And you may call me the Big Bad Wolf,
now my only reputation.

The poem alludes to one of the famous fables, ‘The Little Red Riding Hood’. Here the wolf narrates his side of the story to justify his action. Here the wolf is a symbol of innocence and mystery.

Example #3

The Boy and the Wolf by John Hookham Frere

A LITTLE Boy was set to keep
A little flock of goats or sheep;
He thought the task too solitary,
And took a strange perverse vagary:
To call the people out of fun,
To see them leave their work and run,
He cried and screamed with all his might, —
“Wolf! wolf!” in a pretended fright.
Some people, working at a distance,
Came running in to his assistance.
They searched the fields and bushes round,
The Wolf was nowhere to be found.

This example is also based on one of the famous folk tales about the wolf and a shepherd boy. Here the wolf represents cunningness and survival, while the boy is a symbol of ignorance.

Example #4

A Wolf’s Moon by Anonymous

Beneath the moon’s gaze, the wolf appears,
Its silvery fur blending with the night,
A creature of wildness, eyes shining bright.

Amidst the howling winds, it roams free,
Embracing the darkness with primal glee,
A symbol of nature’s untamed decree.

The moon’s ethereal light guides its way,
Through ancient forests, where secrets lay,
Unleashing the spirit of the wolf at bay.

In this poem, the wolf is a symbol of beauty, grace, and a mystical being.

Example #5

The Wolves by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

When Grandmother Polly had married and gone,
But before her father had given her Clem,
Or Joe, or Sandy, or Evaline-
Before he had given her any of them,
She used to live in a far-away place,
In a little cabin that was her home,
And all around were bushes and trees,
And the wolves could come.
At night they ran down out of the rocks
And bristled up their trembly fur.
They came and howled by Polly’s door
And showed their little white teeth at her.

In this example, the poet describes life in the wilderness, where the speaker has a new home. Here the wolf is a symbol of fear and uncertainty.

Example #6

The Jungle Book By Rudyard Kipling

The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

This quote is one of the best dialogue used in the book as well as the screen as a motto of the Akeyla, the leader of the pack. Here, wolves are symbolism of unity and survival.

Example #6

Foxheart By Claire Legrand

Sometimes the wolf lives deep inside me. Sometimes I am the wolf.

In this example, the narrator is comparing herself/himself with the wolf and even claiming to be one. Here the wolf represents adventure, bravery, and wilds.

Example #7

Wolf Brother By Michelle Paver

The wolf is a spirit animal that represents sharp intelligence and deep connection with instincts. –

According to this example, the wolves represent the spirit world and are also a symbol of intelligence

Example #8

A Dance with Dragons By George R.R. Martin

A man might befriend a wolf, even break a wolf, but no man could truly tame a wolf.

In this example, the wolf is a symbol of loyalty and independence.

Example #9

Never Cry Wolf: The Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves By Farley Mowat

We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.

In this example, the author tries to debunk the real wolf with the mythical wolves used in literature and art. Here, a wolf is a symbol of nature, wilderness, and survival.

Example #10

Lone Wolf By Jodi Picoult

The wolves knew when it was time to stop looking for what they’d lost, to focus instead on what was yet to come.

Here the author describes the way wolves hunt and survive by not taking risks for the pack. Wolves, here, symbolize intelligence and cunningness.