Skip to main content
Select Source:

allegory

allegory, in literature, symbolic story that serves as a disguised representation for meanings other than those indicated on the surface. The characters in an allegory often have no individual personality, but are embodiments of moral qualities and other abstractions. The allegory is closely related to the parable, fable, and metaphor, differing from them largely in intricacy and length. A great variety of literary forms have been used for allegories. The medieval morality play Everyman, personifying such abstractions as Fellowship and Good Deeds, recounts the death journey of Everyman. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, a prose narrative, is an allegory of man's spiritual salvation. Spenser's poem The Faerie Queene, besides being a chivalric romance, is a commentary on morals and manners in 16th-century England as well as a national epic. Although allegory is still used by some authors, its popularity as a literary form has declined in favor of a more personal form of symbolic expression (see symbolists).

See C. S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love (1936); P. de Man, Allegories of Reading (1979); M. Quilligan, The Language of Allegory (1979)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"allegory." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"allegory." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/allegory

"allegory." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/allegory

Allegory

Allegory A narrative expressing abstract ideas as concrete symbols; a description of a topic or subject under the guise of another which is suggestive of it, an extended comparative metaphor. There is often little distinction between an allegory, a parable, a simile, or a metaphor. In Judaism, the Song of Songs has been interpreted allegorically, as a description of the relationship between God and his people. Allegory is also to be found in Talmudic and kabbalistic literature. It was especially prominent in Philo, who regarded allegory as ‘the rules of a wise architect’. Yet he also insisted that the literal sense and practice must be maintained (see e.g. De Abrahamo, 89–93). In Christianity, allegorical exegesis is that which treats a text as if it were an allegory, and was thus important for Christians as a way of relating Jewish scripture (from their point of view, the Old Testament) to Christianity.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Allegory." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Allegory." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory

"Allegory." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory

ALLEGORY

ALLEGORY. A story, such as George ORWELL'S Animal Farm (1945), that can be read on two levels: as a surface narrative that may or may not be realistic and at a deeper level that is often didactic and moralistic, and sometimes satirical. Characters and episodes are intended to represent some elements in human life: Orwell's farm is a nation state and his pigs are Marxist revolutionaries. Allegory may occur in any genre, does not constitute a literary form, and is in effect an extended METAPHOR. See ANALOGY.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ALLEGORY." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ALLEGORY." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/allegory

"ALLEGORY." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/allegory

allegory

al·le·go·ry / ˈaləˌgôrē/ • n. (pl. -ries) a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one: Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory of the spiritual journey. ∎  the genre to which such works belong. ∎  a symbol. DERIVATIVES: al·le·go·rist / -ist/ n.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"allegory." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"allegory." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory-1

"allegory." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory-1

allegory

allegory XIV. — (O)F. allégorie — L. allēgoria — Gr. allēgoríā ‘speaking otherwise’, f. állos other + agor — in agoreúein speak; see -Y3.
So allegoric XIV. allegorical XVI; see -IC, -ICAL. allegorize XV. — F. allégoriser — late L. allēgorizāre.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"allegory." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"allegory." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory-2

"allegory." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory-2

allegory

allegory a story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one. The word comes (in late Middle English) via Old French and Latin from Greek allēgoria, from allos ‘other’ + -agoria ‘speaking’.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"allegory." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"allegory." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory

"allegory." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory

allegory

allegory Literary work in either prose or verse in which more than one level of meaning is expressed simultaneously. The fables of Aesop and La Fontaine are examples of simple allegory. Pilgrim's Progress (1684) by John Bunyan is a sophisticated religious allegory.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"allegory." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"allegory." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/allegory

"allegory." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/allegory

allegory

allegorybeery, bleary, cheery, dearie, dreary, Dun Laoghaire, eerie, eyrie (US aerie), Kashmiri, leery, peri, praemunire, query, smeary, teary, theory, weary •Deirdre • incendiary • intermediary •subsidiary •auxiliary, ciliary, domiciliary •apiary • topiary • farriery • furriery •justiciary •bestiary, vestiary •breviary • aviary • hosiery •diary, enquiry, expiry, fiery, friary, inquiry, miry, priory, spiry, wiry •podiatry, psychiatry •dowry, floury, flowery, loury, showery, towery •brewery • jewellery (US jewelry) •curie, de jure, fioriture, fury, houri, Jewry, jury, Manipuri, Missouri, moory, Newry, tandoori, Urey •statuary • actuary • sanctuary •obituary • sumptuary • voluptuary •January • electuary • ossuary •mortuary •Bradbury, Cadbury •blackberry, hackberry •cranberry • waxberry •Barbary, barberry •Shaftesbury • raspberry •bayberry, blaeberry •Avebury • Aylesbury • Sainsbury •bilberry, tilbury •bribery •corroboree, jobbery, robbery, slobbery, snobbery •dogberry • Roddenberry • Fosbury •strawberry • Salisbury •crowberry, snowberry •chokeberry •Rosebery, Shrewsbury •blueberry, dewberry •Dewsbury • Bloomsbury • gooseberry •blubbery, rubbery, shrubbery •Sudbury • mulberry • huckleberry •Bunbury • husbandry • loganberry •Canterbury • Glastonbury •Burberry, turbary •hatchery • archery •lechery, treachery •stitchery, witchery •debauchery • butchery • camaraderie •cindery, tindery •industry • dromedary • lapidary •spidery • bindery • doddery •quandary • powdery • boundary •bouldery • embroidery •prudery, rudery •do-goodery • shuddery • thundery •prebendary • legendary • secondary •amphorae • wafery •midwifery, periphery •infantry • housewifery • spoofery •puffery • sulphury (US sulfury) •Calgary •beggary, Gregory •vagary •piggery, priggery, whiggery •brigandry • bigotry • allegory •vinegary • category • subcategory •hoggery, toggery •pettifoggery • demagoguery •roguery • sugary •buggery, skulduggery, snuggery, thuggery •Hungary • humbuggery •ironmongery • lingerie • treasury •usury • menagerie • pageantry •Marjorie • kedgeree • gingery •imagery • orangery • savagery •forgery • soldiery • drudgery •perjury, surgery •microsurgery •hackery, quackery, Thackeray, Zachary •mountebankery • knick-knackery •gimcrackery • peccary • grotesquerie •bakery, fakery, jacquerie •chickaree, chicory, hickory, Terpsichore, trickery •whiskery • apothecary •crockery, mockery, rockery •falconry • jiggery-pokery •cookery, crookery, rookery •brusquerie •puckery, succory •cuckoldry •calorie, gallery, Malory, salary, Valerie •saddlery • balladry • gallantry •kilocalorie • diablerie • chandlery •harlotry • celery • pedlary •exemplary •helotry, zealotry •nailery, raillery •Tuileries •ancillary, artillery, capillary, codicillary, distillery, fibrillary, fritillary, Hilary, maxillary, pillory •mamillary • tutelary • corollary •bardolatry, hagiolatry, iconolatry, idolatry •cajolery, drollery •foolery, tomfoolery •constabulary, vocabulary •scapulary • capitulary • formulary •scullery • jugglery • cutlery •chancellery • epistolary • burglary •mammary • fragmentary •passementerie • flimflammery •armory, armoury, gendarmerie •almonry •emery, memory •creamery • shimmery • primary •rosemary • yeomanry •parfumerie, perfumery •flummery, Montgomery, mummery, summary, summery •gossamery • customary • infirmary •cannery, granary, tannery •canonry •antennary, bimillenary, millenary, venery •tenantry • chicanery •beanery, bicentenary, catenary, centenary, deanery, greenery, machinery, plenary, scenery, senary, septenary •disciplinary, interdisciplinary •hymnary • missionary •ordinary, subordinary •valetudinary • imaginary • millinery •culinary • seminary • preliminary •luminary • urinary • veterinary •mercenary • sanguinary •binary, finery, pinery, quinary, vinery, winery •Connery • Conakry • ornery • joinery •buffoonery, poltroonery, sublunary, superlunary •gunnery, nunnery •consuetudinary • visionary •exclusionary • legionary • pulmonary •coronary • reactionary • expansionary •concessionary, confessionary, discretionary •confectionery, insurrectionary, lectionary •deflationary, inflationary, probationary, stationary, stationery •expeditionary, petitionary, prohibitionary, traditionary, transitionary •dictionary • cautionary •ablutionary, counter-revolutionary, devolutionary, elocutionary, evolutionary, revolutionary, substitutionary •functionary •diversionary, reversionary •fernery, quaternary, ternary •peppery • extempore • weaponry •apery, drapery, japery, napery, papery, vapoury (US vapory) •frippery, slippery •coppery, foppery •popery • dupery • trumpery •February • heraldry • knight-errantry •arbitrary • registrary • library •contrary • horary • supernumerary •itinerary • honorary • funerary •contemporary, extemporary, temporary •literary • brasserie • chancery •accessory, intercessory, pessary, possessory, tesserae •dispensary, incensory, ostensory, sensory, suspensory •tracery •pâtisserie, rotisserie •emissary • dimissory •commissary, promissory •janissary • necessary • derisory •glossary • responsory • sorcery •grocery • greengrocery •delusory, illusory •compulsory • vavasory • adversary •anniversary, bursary, cursory, mercery, nursery •haberdashery •evidentiary, penitentiary, plenipotentiary, residentiary •beneficiary, fishery, judiciary •noshery • gaucherie • fiduciary •luxury • tertiary •battery, cattery, chattery, flattery, tattery •factory, manufactory, olfactory, phylactery, refractory, satisfactory •artery, martyry, Tartary •mastery, plastery •directory, ex-directory, interjectory, rectory, refectory, trajectory •peremptory •alimentary, complementary, complimentary, documentary, elementary, parliamentary, rudimentary, sedimentary, supplementary, testamentary •investigatory •adulatory, aleatory, approbatory, celebratory, clarificatory, classificatory, commendatory, congratulatory, consecratory, denigratory, elevatory, gyratory, incantatory, incubatory, intimidatory, modificatory, participatory, placatory, pulsatory, purificatory, reificatory, revelatory, rotatory •natatory • elucidatory • castigatory •mitigatory • justificatory •imprecatory • equivocatory •flagellatory • execratory • innovatory •eatery, excretory •glittery, jittery, skittery, twittery •benedictory, contradictory, maledictory, valedictory, victory •printery, splintery •consistory, history, mystery •presbytery •inhibitory, prohibitory •hereditary • auditory • budgetary •military, paramilitary •solitary • cemetery • limitary •vomitory • dormitory • fumitory •interplanetary, planetary, sanitary •primogenitary • dignitary •admonitory, monitory •unitary • monetary • territory •secretary • undersecretary •plebiscitary • repository • baptistery •transitory •depositary, depository, expository, suppository •niterie •Godwottery, lottery, pottery, tottery •bottomry • watery • psaltery •coterie, notary, protonotary, rotary, votary •upholstery •bijouterie, charcuterie, circumlocutory •persecutory • statutory • salutary •executory •contributory, retributory, tributary •interlocutory •buttery, fluttery •introductory • adultery • effrontery •perfunctory • blustery • mediatory •retaliatory • conciliatory • expiatory •denunciatory, renunciatory •appreciatory, depreciatory •initiatory, propitiatory •dietary, proprietary •extenuatory •mandatary, mandatory •predatory • sedentary • laudatory •prefatory • offertory • negatory •obligatory •derogatory, interrogatory, supererogatory •nugatory •expurgatory, objurgatory, purgatory •precatory •explicatory, indicatory, vindicatory •confiscatory, piscatory •dedicatory • judicatory •qualificatory • pacificatory •supplicatory •communicatory, excommunicatory •masticatory • prognosticatory •invocatory • obfuscatory •revocatory • charlatanry •depilatory, dilatory, oscillatory •assimilatory • consolatory •voluntary • emasculatory •ejaculatory •ambulatory, circumambulatory, perambulatory •regulatory •articulatory, gesticulatory •manipulatory • copulatory •expostulatory • circulatory •amatory, declamatory, defamatory, exclamatory, inflammatory, proclamatory •crematory • segmentary •lachrymatory •commentary, promontory •informatory, reformatory •momentary •affirmatory, confirmatory •explanatory • damnatory •condemnatory •cosignatory, signatory •combinatory •discriminatory, eliminatory, incriminatory, recriminatory •comminatory • exterminatory •hallucinatory • procrastinatory •monastery • repertory •emancipatory • anticipatory •exculpatory, inculpatory •declaratory, preparatory •respiratory • perspiratory •vibratory •migratory, transmigratory •exploratory, laboratory, oratory •inauguratory • adjuratory •corroboratory • reverberatory •refrigeratory • compensatory •desultory • dysentery •exhortatory, hortatory •salutatory • gustatory • lavatory •inventory •conservatory, observatory •improvisatory •accusatory, excusatory •lathery •feathery, heathery, leathery •dithery, slithery •carvery •reverie, severy •Avery, bravery, knavery, quavery, Savery, savory, savoury, slavery, wavery •thievery •livery, quivery, shivery •silvery •ivory, salivary •ovary •discovery, recovery •servery • equerry • reliquary •antiquary • cassowary • stipendiary •colliery • pecuniary • chinoiserie •misery • wizardry • citizenry •advisory, provisory, revisory, supervisory •causerie, rosary

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"allegory." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"allegory." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory-0

"allegory." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved June 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/allegory-0