In literature a very common literary device is symbolism. Authors often use symbolism to communicate a deeper idea than they actually write. Symbolism is an object used by an author to open doors of meaning. They use objects, actions, and characters to give more meaning to the thing itself. In Greene's short essay "The Destructors", there are uses of symbol. These examples include, Old Misery's house is a symbol for art, beauty, and upper classes moreover, It symbolizes the need to destroy something aesthetic when in the atmosphere of war. The Destructors of the house, namely the Wormsley Common Gang, symbolizes the effect of war on younger generations. Lastly, the main character Trevor, he symbolizes demotion and with his demotion from the upper class to the lower class he wants to take charge and get back.
Old Misery's house is located in an atmosphere of poverty stricken people, where the war has taken its effect on both the people and the land. But through all the destruction due to the war, there still managed to stand a beautiful lavish house, that of which belonged to Old Misery. This house was built by a famous architect, Christopher Wren, who Trevor Knew was famous for working for the wealthy upper class people, because he was once a part of them. The other members of the Wormsley Common Gang do not understand the aesthetic nature of Old misery's house and basically are indifferent about the destruction of the house; this is due to their lower class nature. Trevor, on the other hand, was exposed to art and aesthetic things while growing up so this gives him even more reason to destroy the house. Graham Greene continues to show how Old Misery's house symbolizes art, when Trevor tells the rest of the Wormsley Common Gang that the house is "beautiful" (page51 ln 31). He continues when Trevor says, "It's got a staircase two hundred years old like a corkscrew. Nothing holds it up" (page 51 ln 33).