Allegory
A Story That's Intended to be a Metaphor for Something Else.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-01-07 20:53:57 sponsor: batgirl1 (last reply: 2013-01-21 14:25:34)

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An allegory is a work that's designed to be a metaphor for something else. Just about every character is meant to be a representation of some group or concept, and their interactions in the work are meant to convey ideas about how these groups/concepts affect each other in real life. The story may say "Alice and Bob had tea together", but in actuality, Alice represents Capitalism, Bob represents Communism, and the "tea" is actually a meeting of the UN. Expect Rule of Symbolism to come into play in these stories.

Perhaps the most famous example is Pilgrim's Progress, a Christian allegory in which the protagonist (named Christian) leaves his old life to go on a journey to the Celestial City, overcoming many obstacles along the way. Not all allegories are this Anvilicious, however. Some are very subtle, to the point where you don't even realize the story is an allegory until someone points it out to you. This is why so many readers get to thinking that Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory.

World of Symbolism is a Sub-Trope in which the Allegory only makes sense on the metaphorical level and not the literal one.

Allegory Adventure is a Sub-Trope in which the plot is an allegory for another work of fiction.

Compare Does This Remind You of Anything?.

Contrast Applicability, which is when a story has meanings beyond with the author intended. Likewise, Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory is when the reader sees meanings that aren't really there. See Also Metaphorgotten, when the story (or reader) loses track of what it was talking about.

Examples

Comic Books
  • Tales Of The Black Freighter, the Story Within A Story in Watchmen: a tragic little pirate story about a man who gets so paranoid about pirates attacking his home town, that he goes crazy and ends up killing everyone himself, interesting in its own right, and then you realize that It's a metaphor for the villain's plan to "save the world" by murdering thousands, and further hints that his plan is totally in vain.

Film
  • The 1954 film Gojira was made as an allegory about the horrors of the atomic bomb.
  • Monsters2010 as an allegory for the U.S. - Mexican border regime.

Literature
  • Animal Farm - animals oust the human farmer and take over the running of the farm, as an allegory for the rise and corruption of Communism in the USSR.
  • Battle Royale is considered an allegory about humans ( Not just teens) and what they're willing to do in order to survive.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia - for Christianity (according to Word of God, Aslan literally is Jesus), and the battle against evil.
    • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe re-enacts the crucifixion story with Jadis the White Witch as Satan, Aslan as Jesus (of course), and Edmund as the unsaved sinner in need of redemption. Lucy and Susan also fill in for the Marys who attend Christ's death and burial.
    • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace's transformation back from a dragon, and subsequent reform of character, is an allegory for the conversion of St. Paul.
    • The Last Battle is an almost 1:1 retelling of the Second Coming, complete with a false Aslan and his "prophet", a massive war, and everyone going to heaven at the end.
  • Hinds Feet On High Places - for the process of converting to Christianity
  • Pilgrim's Progress - for the process of converting to Christianity
  • Lord of the Flies for war and its causes, the island acting as a microcosm for the World at the time.

Religion and Mythology
  • Christ's parables in The Bible were this. He himself even provides the literal interpretation of the Parable of the Sower.
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