According to the clip below, the symbolism of Swift’s environments represent the ups and downs of one of her past relationships.
“The forest scene represents the evergreen beginning of a relationship where everything seems magical and full of beauty…whereas, the ocean represents the isolation and fear involved while a relationship is breaking down,” the text in the video explains.
“Returning to the cabin signifies returning to a sense of self after experiencing love lost. However, Taylor’s clothes remain soaking wet to represent that she was changed by the journey but has discovered who she always was.
“I view folklore as wistful and full of escapism,” added Swift. “Sad, beautiful, tragic. Like a photo album full of imagery, and all the stories behind that imagery.”
“I was inspired by the feeling of isolation and how that can be either freeing or terrifying, and how it causes you to reminisce on the past.”
Swift also explained that a number of lil references were hidden in the background of the scene in the cabin. The aged photo of a man on the wall at the beginning of the clip is her grandfather, Dean, who landed on the beaches at the Battle of Guadalcanal in WWII—her grandfather is also referenced in the song “epiphany.”
Plus, the 1 and 3 on the clock is meant to represent her favourite number, and the painting of the White House next to the piano was actually painted by Taylor herself during the first week of quarantine.
For more on the process of making “cardigan” and the rest of the folklore album, including creating it all in secret and during quarantine, check out the full video below.