English Literature


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The Enigma of Allegory: An Insight into its Meaning

Allegory is a literary device that employs extended personification to convey a hidden message. It involves using characters and events in a seemingly unrelated story to express a deeper meaning. In this article, we will discuss the definition of allegory, its creation, and provide several examples.

What is Allegory?

Allegory is when an abstract concept is personified by a character or object. It involves a broader narrative, often in the form of a character, to convey an idea or lesson. Similar to a metaphor, allegory connects two seemingly unrelated things to express a deeper meaning. The true message within an allegory may differ greatly from the superficial story in the text. It can be used to discuss moral themes, historical events, or any abstract concept.

Examples of Allegory

John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678) is considered a renowned allegorical work in literature. This fictional text is an exemplary example of allegory in theological fiction.

The story follows Christian, the protagonist, on his pilgrimage from the 'City of Destruction' - symbolizing the human world - to the 'Celestial City' - representing heaven. After reading 'the book in his hand' (a reference to the Bible), Christian believes that God will destroy the city due to its sinful ways. He embarks on the journey in search of salvation.

Throughout his journey, Christian faces physical obstacles such as the 'Slough of Despond' - a symbol for doubts and fears that may hinder one's faith. He also encounters symbolic settings, such as the 'Village of Morality' where people live according to the Ten Commandments. These elements serve to convey broader ideas beyond their initial appearance in the story.


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