allegory

Allegory (9 types and use in Literature with Examples)

Allegory, a literary device, used for the purpose of narration or description. You will find the purpose of allegory, its types, common examples, and its use in literature.

Allegory Definition

The word allegory came from the Latin word ‘‘allegoria’’

‘Allegory’ is a literary device that is used for description or explanation often limited to a single meaning because its events, actions, characters, setting, and objects represent specific abstractions of ideas. In allegory, the characters may be given the names, such as, ‘Hope’, ‘pride’, ‘Youth’ and ‘Charity’.

These names are not symbols because, for instance, the meaning of a character named charity is precisely that virtue. It may also be defined as a hidden moral lesson whose purpose is to deliver some moral or religious truth in a pleasant way.

Purpose of Allegory:

  • It helps the readers to understand the intensive idea in a poem
  • It makes the writing more vivid and interesting
  • Making satire on life and society
  • Helpful in comparing the fictional and real situation
  • Creating written, oral or visual expression about human conduct or experience
  • The best technique for the writer to illustrate moral or spiritual truth

Types of Allegory

  • Biblical
  • Religious
  • Historical
  • Conceptual
  • Classical
  • Social
  • Political
  • Medieval
  • Modern

Common Examples of Allegory

  • ‘Eagle’ is representation of the abstract concept of ‘wisdom’
  • ‘Witch’ represents as an evil
  • ‘Picture’ shows the amazing wisdom of its maker
  • ‘Pigeon’ is the abstract concept of “peace”
  • ‘Flower’ is representation of love

ALLEGORY IN LITERATURE

“Pilgrim’s Progress” (By John Bunyan)

It is an example of spiritual allegory. The concepts of ‘hope’ and ‘mercy’ becoame real-life characters in his work saga of a man (Christian) searching for salvation. ‘Bunyan’ likes allegory that describes his way to the Christian faith. The ordinary sinner Christian leaves the City, where God resides, for salvation. He finds trustful companion who helps him on his way to the City. On many instances, many characters, including Hypocrisy, Apollo, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Obstinate, and Pliable try to discourage or stop him from achieving hi aim. Lastly, he reached the Celestial City, carried by Hopeful’s faith.

“Animal Farm” (by George Orwell)

It is the allegory of “Russian revolution” which tells the history of Soviet Union. Through “Animal Form”, ‘George Orwell” indicated the malpractices of Bolshevik society.

“All animal are equal“ is the struggle of creating equal society where the people would be able to get equivalent rights of living. “Snowball” stands for Trotsky, who made struggle to demonstrate the animal how to implement the reforms introduced by communist party for their betterment. The “dog” stands for K.B.G, the secret agency of Russia, whose purpose is to give support to ruling party and promulgate its valves. “Squealer” is an agent who at first supports Snow ball and then Napoloen. “Moses” is orthodox church, who remained equal to all the people.“Boxer and Clover” stand for proletarian class, who without caring anyone work for the people.“Mollie” stands for those who has not care to anyone. “Cats” refer to the opportunities which would be helpful for the people to change their lives. “The death of Snowball” is allegory of death of Trotsky by Stalin with the help of secret agent. “Napoleon” is allegory of a dictator who with his reformed thinking changed the society.

“Fairee Queen” (by Edmund Spencer)

It is Spencer’s moral, spiritual and political allegory in which characters and incidents have been allegorized. Political and religious conflicts of this age have also been presented by using allegory. ‘The Red Cross Knight’ is allegory of Holiness and “Lady Una” for truth and goodness. The parents of “lady una” are symbols of human race while “Dragon” who confined them stands for evil. Similarly, “Archimago” who has been shown as magician is allegory of Hypocrisy.

“The Masque of the Red Death” by Edger Allen Poe

‘Poe’ has presented fictional allegory in his work. The gist of the story is that no one can escape from the death, no matter how hard is it. Allegory is visible in ‘The Masque of the Red Death’. Firstly, when there is an attempt to escape the “red death, a fictional plague (disease). Prince Prospero gathers his friends retreats to “one of his castellated abbeys”. This abbey has strong and lofty walls and gates or iron. The Prince and his guests lock themselves in order to escape from the death. The allegory of seven rooms is also a worth mentioning. Each room has its own features but about the seventh room, the “Poe” has used the allegory by presenting the decorations of room with black velvet and red windows. This room creates effect on the people there,

“the effect of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings the blood-tinted panes, produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all”.

The allegory of velvet is used by the ‘Poe’ that fear is still in the guests of abbey despite the fact that they consider abbey a safe place. The dark imagery of the seventh room shows that something wrong will happen to the Prince and his friends.

“Young Goodman Brown” (by Nathaniel Hawthorne)

“Hawthorne” creates an allegory by naming his characters ironically. “Goodman Brown” speaks about his wife as “Poor little Faith” showing that he’ll rise to heaven by clinging to her skirts is an allegory through which writer actually reveals the nature of character’s own faith, flimsy and different from his own self. Likewise, symbols of allegory have also been used in the work. The “heaven above” and with its darkening by the clouds of “a confused and doubtful sound of voices”, Goodman feels all hope in faith lost. The “wind” is symbolic life in laughing in scorn at Brown’s indignation by its “frightful sounds-the creaking of trees, the howling of wild easts, and they the yell of Indians”.

“Hawthorne” uses allegory when the people of village paid homage to devil and Devil asked the villagers to look upon each other and reveal their characters, “roaring wind, rushing streams”.

Allegory Vs. Metaphor

‘Allegory’ is a story that points to a deeper meaning. An allegory is sometimes referred to as ‘extended metaphor’. Allegory includes the Aesop’s Fables like:

  • The Tortoise & the Hare
  • The Wolf and the Lamb
  • The Fox and the Grapes

The Crow and the pitcher‘Metaphor’ is a comparison that points to a deeper meaning. The deeper meaning in metaphor is contained in a character. In metaphor, a single object is taken to represent some other object.

Further Reading

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