Comm 403 Blog 3-Semiotic Analysis of a Cultural Symbol


Purses are everywhere!  It is almost impossible to go anywhere and not see at least one woman with a purse.  They come in all different colors, sizes, and shapes.  What started out as a place to keep items like wallets, keys, and other small on-the-go items, has turned into a complete fashion statement for many women.  So let’s examine the semiotics, including the denotative, connotative, and mythological significance of a purse, specifically a Coach purse.  
     On a denotative level, specifically a simple physical description of the an item, this bag is beige with brown “C”s around the entire outside of the bag.  The bag appears sturdy enough to stand up on its own and is shaped like a rectangle.  Additionally, the straps of the bag stick up by themselves on the middle top of the bag and appear shiny.  Also, a small, decorative rectangle hangs from the strap of the bag.  A pocket can be seen on the left-hand side of the bag.  Although this is a nice visual of this Coach bag, it says so much more than just on a denotative level.
     A more abstract, cultural interpretation of the bag, or the connotation, tells that it is a Coach bag in the first place.  From the picture, the word Coach does not appear.  Moreover, the letter C alone does not only represent Coach.  However, the “C”s connote that this is a specific brand, Coach, because of the font used and the fact that they are covering a purse and the positions of the “C”s on it.  Furthermore, the “C”s tell that this bag is of high-class.  There is no price tag on the picture, but culturally, we can determine that this bag was expensive.  When one buys a Coach bag, he or she is paying for the prestigious name, not the amount of reliability, the labor put into it, or the materials used. 

     Finally, on a even deeper interpretation of this bag, there are more than one mythical significances.  To begin, our culture has define that purses should only be used by women.  More specifically, Coach bags are extremely feminine, maybe even more so than other brands of bags.  Generally, the only way a man is going to purchase a Coach purse is to buy a present for a female.  This, however, does not really make sense.  First, men cannot show their prestige with a bag; they are left to do it in other ways.  Also, although some women may carry more items with them than men, men carry wallets, keys, and other items too.  For example, a woman could place her sunglasses in her bag (and may even be asked to place her significant other’s sunglasses in her bag!) while a man is left to either keep them at home or in a car or put them on the top of his head.  A man could reap the same benefits from carrying a purse, but would be looked down upon in our society.  Another mythical significance of  the Coach bag is the idea of prestige and class.  Carrying a Coach bag means that you may be wealthy or at the very least have a lot of class.  In our society, wealth, class, and prestige are so very important.  That is simply the ideal.  A Coach bag is just one way to show you may have reached such status.  Overall, on a denotative level a Coach purse is just another purse, society has placed connotative and mythical meanings to this brand of bag.   

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