Allegorical Examples And Allegory Definition

Want a basic allegorical example? How about the tale of the tortoise and the hare. Both went at their own pace until they were challenged to a race. In the end, due to the hubris of the hare, the slower tortoise wins. But what is the purpose of telling this age-old tale?

Stories like the famed Tortoise And The Hare are called “allegories.” These stories usually take the form of anthropomorphized animals having some interactions that are meant to carry a deeper meaning or message. In other words, allegories are a tool writers can use to simply give large or nebulous messages simply and interestingly. 

What Are Allegories? 

As mentioned, allegories are short stories used to convey abstract, difficult, or complex meanings. Most allegories use animals or other fantastical characters to illustrate moral values or character pitfalls. 

In most cases, allegories are commonly used because people tend to follow, listen, and understand captivating stories. Most would probably opt for the story if given the option between a lecture on morality and a whimsical story. 

Additionally, a writer may want to form their work as an allegory if their subject matter is negative or even dangerous to talk about. For instance, George Orwell’s Animal Farm is structured as a tale of farm animals coexisting, when in truth, it is an allegory for his thoughts on the Russian Government at the time.

Allegories And Literary Devices

As shown, allegories can be strong literary devices for writers, allowing them t write about topics they may not have been able to write about before. Due to their popularity, many people confuse allegories with other common literary devices. To dispel this confusion, let’s look at some of the most common literary devices that relate to allegories: 

Motifs: Motifs are a popular subject in creative writing. In short, motifs are central ideas or themes which appear throughout a work of writing. Many allegories may have a handful of motifs that show throughout them. However, motifs aren’t allegories on their own! 

Allusions: Allusions are devices where you reference a well-known work, figure, art piece, etc. Again, these may appear within an allegory. However, they aren’t considered to be one on their own. 

Metaphors: Metaphors are probably the most common thing people confuse allegories with. Metaphors are where you compare/attribute two things to each other without saying “as if,” “as,” or “like.” When compared, metaphors should only be 1-3 sentences long, whereas allegories take the form of longer stories. 

Fables: Once again, fables are often used interchangeably with allegories. In reality, both have similarities. However, they aren’t technically interchangeable. Allegories are usually broader and can encompass fables, whereas fables are shorter allegories that specifically use characters that aren’t humans to teach a moral lesson. 

How To Use Allegory In Your Writing 

Due to their fun and whimsical nature, allegories shouldn’t have anything to do with formal, speech, scientific, or even academic writing. Allegories usually fall in the creative writing category, meaning that you can be informal and include any aspects you want. In any case, though, it is important that if you try to write an allegory, you should try to make your message interesting and clear. 

If you use allegories correctly, there shouldn’t be a need for further explanation. In other words, your story alone should be able to convey its deeper meaning on its own. 

Forms Of Allegory 

You may know that multiple forms of allegory are distinguished based on what tradition they arose from. There are usually three defined forms: classical, biblical, and modern. 

Classical: First, there is the classical form, which is characterized by emerging from the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Some popular versions of classic allegories can be found in Aesop’s Fables.

Biblical: biblical allegories are specific, as they are allegories that are only found within the bible. These allegories teach lessons that relate to or come from the bible itself. In most stories, there are heavy themes of good and evil. 

Modern: Modern allegories are some of the most thought-provoking, as they are usually used to portray current or relatable issues we may be experiencing. For instance, The Scarlet Letter, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, and Animal Farm are all captivating allegories that deal with heavy and ongoing topics. 

Examples Of Allegories 

As shown throughout this blog, allegories rely on symbolism, themes, motifs, and underlying meanings. Allegories are not symbols but usually take the form of stories that point to motifs and deeper meanings.

Some common and classic examples of allegories include: 

  • Animal Farm (George Orwell)
  • The Tortoise And The Hair (Aesop)
  • The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz (L. Frank Baum)
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan)
  •  The Chronicles Of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
  • Lord Of The Rings (J.R. Tolkien)
  • Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
  • The Sneetches (Dr. Seuss)
  • The Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
  • The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • The Crucible (Arthur Miller)
  • The Faerie Queene Edmund Spenser)

Summary

In the end, allegories are stories used to portray deep meaning or difficult topics. They work through interactive and interesting storytelling, which ultimately holds a hidden message. At first glance, you may just view allegories as stories, but they function as much more. 

There are some distinctions between allegories, such as the categories of biblical allegories, classical allegories, and modern allegories. Additionally, they can also be divided by literary devices they use. However, that is much less common. 

With all of this being said, I hope that you have learned a bit more about allegories and that you may be able to distinguish and identify them yourself! 

Related: What Are Literary Antagonists? 

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