What is Allegory? Definition, Meaning and Examples

An allegory is a story in which the characters are symbols. Each one represents a certain concept in real life, such as a political or religious idea. This gives the story a hidden meaning.

You can often tell that a story is an allegory when you can take a basic statement from the story and then directly apply it to real life.

An allegory is a representation of one subject by another, thus a trope, in which objects, persons, and actions represent some moral, social, political or historical idea or principle, either directly or by means of comparison, convention, or implication.

Allegory is a commonly used literary device, especially in poetry, and in that context it is sometimes identified as a type of personification.

Difference Between Allegory and Symbolism

In allegory, the characters are real, while the meanings behind the characters stand for something else.

In symbolism, the characters stand for something, and are not real themselves.

For example, Aesop’s Fable “The Frog Who Desired a King” is an allegory. The frog is a real animal, while the issue over wanting a king is a human problem that the frog personifies.

In symbolic stories, the objects/animals do not exist but they represent something else. The “Hare and Tortoise” fable is a great example of symbolism.

It is about how slow and steady wins the race. The hare and tortoise are simply animals.

Writing Allegory

It is a story in which the characters are real, while the meanings behind the characters stand for something else.

An allegory is a common literary device, especially in poetry, and in that context it is sometimes identified as a type of symbolic personification. Now lets take a look at Allegory examples.

Examples of Allegory in Literature

“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck is an allegory. The story is about the conflict between a mentally disabled man and a cynical, impulsive small-time hustler. The beliefs of the story are conveyed in an engaging manner with the facts being presented in a manner that hints something greater exists.

The story of Moby Dick by Herman Melville is also an allegory. It explores man’s obsession with inherent evil and how it manifests itself.

This obsession leads to obsession with the pursuit of an evil. Metaphor, simile, and hyperbole are used extensively in the story.

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