Allegory: Definition, Examples & Meaning

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      Allegory is a literary device in which abstract ideas and principles are described in terms of characters, figures and events. The objective of its use is to preach some kind of a moral lesson. The allegory is a more general narrative type, which also employs metaphor. Like the parable, the allegory makes a single, unambiguous point. An allegory may have multiple non-contradictory interpretations and may also have implications that are ambiguous or hard to interpret. For example, The Faerie Queene, a masterpiece of Edmund Spenser, is a moral and religious allegory. John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim's Progress is an example of spiritual allegory. The ordinary sinner Christian leaves the City of Destruction and travels towards Celestial City, where God resides, for salvation. He finds Faithful, a companion who helps him on his way to the City. On many instances many characters Hypocrisy, Apollyon, Mr. Worldy Wiseman and Obstinate and Pliable try to discourage or stop him from achieving his aim. Finally, he reaches the Celestial City carried by Hopeful’s faith.

      Animal Farm written by George Orwell, is an allegory that uses animals on a farm to describe the overthrow of the last of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and the Communist Revolution of Russia before WW I. The actions of the animals on the farm are used to expose the greed and corruption of the revolution. It also describes how powerful people can change the ideology of a society. One of the cardinal rules on the farm for the animals is: “All animals are equal but a few are more equal than others.” The animals on the farm represent different sections of Russian society after the revolution. For instance, the pigs represent those who came to power following the revolution; Mr. Jones the owner of the farm represents the overthrown Tsar Nicholas II; while Boxer the horse, represents the laborer class etc. The use of allegory in the novel allows Orwell to make his position clear about the Russian Revolution and expose its evils.

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