Literary Term Allegory

Literary Term Allegory

Allegory in literature is a storytelling technique where characters, events, or settings represent abstract ideas, moral qualities, or historical events. It’s a way of obtaining deeper meanings or messages through symbolic representation. Allegory involves moral lessons. For instance, in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” the animals and their actions symbolize political figures and events in the Russian Revolution and next Soviet Union.

The most famous allegories in English literature are “The Faerie Queene” by Edmund Spenser, “The Divine Comedy” by Dante, “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan and Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorn.

Here are some characteristics of Allegory.

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  • Symbolism: Objects, characters, or events represent abstract ideas or moral qualities. These symbols often have a deeper, hidden meaning beyond their literal interpretation.
  • Dual Meaning: Allegories operate on two levels—the literal level of the story and the symbolic level, where elements stand for something else. For example, characters may represent virtues or vices, and events may symbolize historical affairs.
  • Moral or Philosophical Message: Allegories often convey moral, philosophical, religious, or political messages. They aim to teach or impart wisdom by indirectly using the story’s symbols and events to convey these messages.
  • Extended Metaphor: The entire literary work functions as a metaphor with the story’s elements.

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  • Universality: Allegories are often crafted to convey universal truths or themes. This exceeds specific periods or cultures. This allows for broader interpretations and relevance across various contexts.
  • Simplicity and Complexity: On the surface, allegories might seem simple, but their deeper meanings can be complex and multifaceted.
  • Historical or Political Commentary: Allegories are frequently used to comment on historical events, political situations, or societal issues in a veiled or indirect manner.
Riya Akter
Riya Akter
Hey, This is Riya Akter Setu, B.A (Hons) & M.A in English from National University.


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