The Snake in Media

Throughout the media, snakes have been portrayed as a notorious creature with bad connotations. The earliest connotation we saw with this trope originated from the bible where the snake led Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden apple. With its long and venomous teeth on top of the implication of greed and temptation, we began to associate snakes with evilness. In the following examples, I will prove that this is not particularly true and how this trope is used widely in the media.

Trope 1: Join, or Die (Flag)

This illustration (later a flag) “Join, or Die” was first published by Benjamin Franklin in 1754 in the Pennsylvania Gazett newspaper. In this picture, the snake is seen in pieces and chopped up. This was meant to signify the disunity of the colonies in 1754. Benjamin Franklin used this illustration as a goal for unity during the French and Indian war. This flag was also a reference to the myth that if a snake were cut into pieces but reunited before sunset, it would come back to life. In this case, Benjamin Franklin was referencing the colonies and if we unite together just in time, we would have a chance to defeat the enemy. But if we don’t, we would “die” or lose this battle. 

Trope 2: Medical Symbols (Logos)

Snakes would also be used in the medical fields despite their vicious representations. First created in 1818, snakes can be found on logos of the Asian Society Emergency Medicine and the American Medical Association. For someone that has no background knowledge of greek mythology, one can simply look at these logos as a snake wrapping around a stick. Most people can be confused as to why snakes are being represented as health officials due to their venomous characteristics. But in fact, the snake wrapped around the stick came from greek mythology that is known as the rod of Asclepius where Asclepius was the god of medicine and healing. As for the snake, even though most people depict them as a dangerous creature, they symbolize healing and rejuvenation. This is because their venoms have medical aids due to their anti-venom and medical properties.

Trope 3: Temptation (Book Cover)

Written by Jason Hardin, “Hard Core: Defeating Sexual Temptation with a Superior Satisfaction” was a religious book published in 2011 about people’s struggle with sexual desires. The book cover made a reference to the story of Adam and Eve, indicating there is religious content in this book. The story of Adam and Eve was about a snake luring the two into eating the forbidden apple. These elements were used to represent the temptation of pornagraphy and the tempted themselves in this book cover. The snake, seen as the wire attached to the mouse that is leading the person into temptation. The apple, replacing the O in “hard core”, is being symbolized as this forbidden fruit. In the case of this book, porn. I found this book cover very interesting because the designer is combining elements from the bible, something that has a long history behind it, to the modern periods where computers and the internet are thriving. By alluding to the story of Adam and Eve, there was a clear indication to what audience this book is for.


Hardin, J. (n.d.). Hard Core: Defeating Sexual Temptation with a Superior Satisfaction. Retrieved from =

“JOIN, or die” – a symbolic banner in America’s history.

Prakash M, Johnny JC. Things you don’t learn in medical school: Caduceus. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2015;7(Suppl 1):S49-S50. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.155794