Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements. Signs are arranged in order to form semantic constructions and express relations.
For many philosophers, both ancient and modern, man is regarded as the "representational animal" or homo symbolicum, the creature whose distinct character is the creation and the manipulation of signs – things that "stand for" or "take the place of" something else.
Representation has been associated with aesthetics (art) and semiotics (signs). Mitchell says "representation is an extremely elastic notion, which extends all the way from a stone representing a man to a novel representing the day in the life of several Dubliners".
The term 'representation' carries a range of meanings and interpretations. In literary theory, 'representation' is commonly defined in three ways.
Representation began with early literary theory in the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, and has evolved into a significant component of language, Saussurian and communication studies.