Created By: batgirl1 on December 25, 2012 Last Edited By: batgirl1 on January 13, 2013
Troped

Allegorical Character

This character is used to represent a group or idea.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
While some fictional characters are only meant to represent themselves, others are meant to represent something larger than themselves in order to make a point. The author uses this character to represent X, whether X is "Women", "Christians", "Atheism", "Illegal Aliens", "The Bush Administration", or even "You". It's the difference between "Oh, Bob just tripped over the cat again; he is such an idiot" vs. "Bob just tripped over the cat again; men are such idiots."

Sometimes characters are created to be this. Other times, an existing character is (either temporarily or not) drafted into the role by being written as the voice/face/advocate of (topic) for an episode. This can even happen outside of the official canon; in fact, the more this is used outside of the original work, the stronger the case may be for the character being an effective symbol of X.

Please note that the character in question may be a perfectly well-rounded and very much individualized character, but he is so closely linked to a certain concept, that he is often used allegorically as a way of talking about that concept. (E.g., Superman and Idealism)

If all of the characters in the work are written this way, then you might just have a full-blown Allegory on your hands.

When no extra meaning is intended and only exists in the mind of your English teacher, then you have Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory (Although adherents to Death of the Author would point out that just because the allegory wasn't intended doesn't mean it isn't there).

Compare Characters as Device and Archetypal Character.


Subtropes

Other examples

Comic Books:

Film
  • Godzilla himself started as an allegorical character representing the atomic bomb itself and the destruction it caused. His footsteps were even deliberately made to sound like explosions.

Literature:

Live Action TV:
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • December 26, 2012
    Koveras
    We have a similar YKTTW called Party of Representatives, which is about ensembles where every character represents a different culture or faction of the setting.
  • December 26, 2012
    KarjamP
    ^That trope would be a subtrope, as this one not only represents cultures, factions, etc. but also groups of people (like The Bush Administrator) and even ideas.
  • December 26, 2012
    MrRuano
  • December 26, 2012
    batgirl1
    Okay, I have to bring it up: Should we include Real Life persons such as Mother Theresa and Hitler? On the one hand, they are used as short-hand for Good and Evil, respectively. On the other hand, will having a Real Life section invite trouble?
  • December 26, 2012
    MorningStar1337
    ^ I would advise against it.
  • December 26, 2012
    MorningStar1337
    On a side note Wan't The Dark Knight Saga about Batman's evolution to a symbol?
  • December 26, 2012
    elwoz
    ^ When Real Life persons are used as HistoricalDomainCharacters, they are often used in exactly this fashion, so I think they should be fair game in that circumstance. But we should be very clear that it's "in Work X, Historical Figure Y represents Symbol Z", and not that they do/did in Real Life itself.
  • December 26, 2012
    Koveras
    Would ensemble tropes like Three Faces Of Eve and Three Faces Of Adam be subtropes, as each character in them symbolizes a stage of life?
  • December 27, 2012
    batgirl1
    Regarding the Dark Knight, I'm not sure. While they did talk about the concept of a person being a symbol, it seemed to me to be a strictly in-universe kind of a thing, and probably closer to the idea of being Shrouded In Myth. Of course, I could be way off-base here; does anybody else have a thought?
  • December 29, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Would The Messiah also be a subtrope? Or Crystal Dragon Jesus?
  • December 29, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Shouldn't this be called Allegory?
    Allegory is a device in which characters or events represent or symbolize ideas and concepts. [1]
  • December 29, 2012
    batgirl1
    Re: Messiah - I don't think so. A character probably could be both that and this, though. But in general, I think Messiah is just a personality type, and CDJ is more of an expy. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, though.

    Re: Allegory - Aha! Allegory itself might be a Super Trope of this, but what does everyone think of Allegorical Character for a name? Or is it better as-is?
  • December 29, 2012
    elwoz
    I like Allegorical Character, and yeah, how do we not already have Allegory?
  • January 2, 2013
    batgirl1
    Shall we launch it?
  • January 3, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    I don't think so you only have one hat on that ykttw so i don't know if it's ready.
  • January 3, 2013
    starguy256
    I threw my hat in.
  • January 6, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
  • January 7, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    • Kermit the Frog is actually considered an allegorical character for Muppet creator Jim Henson; in fact, Kermit's journey in The Muppet Movie is considered an allegory for Henson's rise to fame
  • January 7, 2013
    japperjay52
    This will hopefully make a great suppert trope. Althought I agree with the above troper, how do we not have a page for allegories?
  • January 7, 2013
    batgirl1
    @Justanotherrandomlurker - You say "considered"; has he been intentionally written that way, or is it just one way of how some fans interpret the movie? Of course, if said fans then write a bunch of fanfics portraying him as Henson's stand-in, then it falls back into being this trope...

  • January 9, 2013
    batgirl1
    Does anything seem to need tweaking, or is it good to go as-is? Is the description clear enough? Does anything need rearranging?
  • January 10, 2013
    elwoz
    The only thing I think is missing is "(Or, if you believe in the Death Of The Author, just because allegory wasn't intended doesn't mean it isn't there.)" immediately after the reference to Everyone Is Jesus In Purgatory.

    Do you want to start a YKTTW for Allegory? I was going to do it, but my brain is absent due to head cold.
  • January 10, 2013
    batgirl1
    ^Actually, I did start one for allegory, but it needs a bit of work.

  • January 13, 2013
    batgirl1
    Going to launch soon, if no one objects.
  • January 13, 2013
    fluffything
    • Godzilla himself started as an allegorical character representing the atomic bomb itself and the destruction it caused. His footsteps were even deliberately made to sound like explosions.
  • January 13, 2013
    Random888
    Star Trek's Freudian Trio:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=2u7yz3d0ryvh1ekv3swj2l14