Let’s do a deep dive into something that’s a little difficult to understand.

As a literary device, an allegory is a metaphor in which a character, place or event is used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues and occurrences.

Simply put, an allegory is a narrative form in which the characters are representative of some larger humanistic trait (i.e. greed, vanity, or bravery) and attempt to convey some larger lesson or meaning to life. Although allegory was originally and traditionally character based, modern allegories tend to parallel story and theme as well.

Although it sounds similar to a myth, there is a difference bewteen and allegory and a myth.  An allegory uses facts and evidence to explain supernatural events, while a myth emphasizes the magical elements of a story. An allegory is an interpretation of the traits of characters from many stories, while a myth focuses only on characters that are specific to one story.

Some examples you might have heard of:

  • William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily– the decline of the Old South
  • Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde– man’s struggle to contain his inner primal instincts
  • District 9– South African Apartheid
  • X Men- the evils of prejudice
  • Harry Potter– the dangers of seeking “racial purity”

What do you think?  Is allegory a hard concept to understand?  Do you have any examples I’ve missed?

Let me know in the comments section!

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