Skip Nav

How to Write an Allegory

2. Carefully Plan Your Characters

❶By setting, I really mean context.

Recent Posts

Language & Lit
Difference Between Allegory and Symbolism
Learn How to Write an Allegory

Some use irony; others metaphors and various references. The distinctive characteristic about allegories is that they have a universal application; a collective human issue represented through a unique story. For fifteen minutes write allegorically about anything. How will you represent this idea in a story in a cover-up fashion? Building an Author Website. Photo by Harry Sherman.

Sophie Novak is an ultimate daydreamer and curious soul, who can be found either translating or reading at any time of day. She originally comes from the sunny heart of the Balkans, Macedonia, and currently lives in the UK.

You can follow her blog and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Writers or speakers typically use allegories as literary devices or as rhetorical devices that convey semi- hidden or complex meanings through symbolic figures, actions, imagery, or events, which together create the moral, spiritual, or political meaning the author wishes to convey.

Northrop Frye discussed what he termed a "continuum of allegory", a spectrum that ranges from what he termed the "naive allegory" of The Faerie Queene , to the more private allegories of modern paradox literature. Many ancient religions are based on astrological allegories , that is, allegories of the movement of the sun and the moon as seen from the Earth.

In classical literature two of the best-known allegories are the Cave in Plato's Republic Book VII and the story of the stomach and its members in the speech of Menenius Agrippa Livy ii. Among the best-known examples of allegory, Plato 's Allegory of the Cave , forms a part of his larger work The Republic.

In this allegory, Plato describes a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall a—b. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows, using language to identify their world c—a.

According to the allegory, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality, until one of them finds his way into the outside world where he sees the actual objects that produced the shadows. He tries to tell the people in the cave of his discovery, but they do not believe him and vehemently resist his efforts to free them so they can see for themselves e—a.

This allegory is, on a basic level, about a philosopher who upon finding greater knowledge outside the cave of human understanding, seeks to share it as is his duty, and the foolishness of those who would ignore him because they think themselves educated enough. In Late Antiquity Martianus Capella organized all the information a fifth-century upper-class male needed to know into an allegory of the wedding of Mercury and Philologia, with the seven liberal arts the young man needed to know as guests.

Other early allegories are found in the Hebrew Bible , such as the extended metaphor in Psalm 80 of the Vine and its impressive spread and growth, representing Israel's conquest and peopling of the Promised Land. Allegorical interpretation of the Bible was a common early Christian practice and continues.

For example, the recently re-discovered IVth Commentary on the Gospels by Fortunatianus of Aquileia has a comment by its English translator: Allegory has an ability to freeze the temporality of a story, while infusing it with a spiritual context. Mediaeval thinking accepted allegory as having a reality underlying any rhetorical or fictional uses.

The allegory was as true as the facts of surface appearances. Thus, the Papal Bull Unam Sanctam presents themes of the unity of Christendom with the pope as its head in which the allegorical details of the metaphors are adduced as facts on which is based a demonstration with the vocabulary of logic: If, then, the Greeks or others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they necessarily confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ.

In the late 15th century, the enigmatic Hypnerotomachia , with its elaborate woodcut illustrations, shows the influence of themed pageants and masques on contemporary allegorical representation, as humanist dialectic conveyed them.

The denial of medieval allegory as found in the 12th-century works of Hugh of St Victor and Edward Topsell 's Historie of Foure-footed Beastes London, , and its replacement in the study of nature with methods of categorisation and mathematics by such figures as naturalist John Ray and the astronomer Galileo is thought to mark the beginnings of early modern science. Since meaningful stories are nearly always applicable to larger issues, allegories may be read into many stories which the author may not have recognised.

This is allegoresis, or the act of reading a story as an allegory. Examples of allegory in popular culture that may or may not have been intended include the works of Bertolt Brecht , and even some works of science fiction and fantasy, such as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.

Lewis and A Kingdom Far and Clear: The symbol or metaphor you have chosen in the beginning should extend through the story to give it continuity and consistency. When you start writing, the beginning, middle and end of the essay should be clear.

The writing should reflect this clarity of thought. An effective allegory essay will have a clear moral or lesson which will become apparent at the end of the essay -- even if it is not stated directly, the message will be implicit in the resolution. Make sure the ending of your essay reflects your final thought on the subject. For instance, if you want to show the damage done to the environment by humans, then the character symbolizing "everyman" could end up harming or hurting the character symbolic of the environment.

Proofread your essay to check grammar, spelling and expression. Revise carefully to see that the allegory is sustained in the writing. Laura Pru began writing professionally in She has written for Andovar and Signature Magazine among many other online publications. What Does the Word Allegory Mean?

How to Cite

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

"Help me write an allegory" is the request of many students. Well, do they understand what an allegory is? Learn the definition and consider what classic works of literature are the most famous allegorical stories. Also, learn how to set up the framework for writing an allegory step-by-step and how to write a successful fable.

Privacy FAQs

After the jump: the second kind of allegory. The second is a vaguer and altogether more nebulous genre of literature. People will often debate over whether these even qualify as allegories, but they are still representing real elements of history or reality, just in a less tidy way.

About Our Ads

An allegory is a complete narrative that involves characters and events that stand for an abstract idea or event. A symbol, on the other hand, is an object that stands for . It’s been some time since I last read an allegory by a modern author. Have you noticed that writers stopped writing them as much? Perhaps the explanation for this lies in that earlier writers had to mask their ideas under metaphorical and allegorical representation because of the harsh government regimes.

Cookie Info

An allegory is a piece of literature that presents an abstract idea in a concrete or physical form, with the purpose of teaching a moral or a lesson. In allegorical stories, plays and essays the writer will choose to personify -- give a character to -- abstract ideas such as love, death, greed, etc. To write this allegory you need to identify a problem that you want to bring attention to and then plan and write an allegory for it in the form of a story (like Animal Farm). To help you understand this task, think about this example.