Allegorical Character

"We live in a world where even kings have vices. Well then we are the kings and we are your vice!"
—Rocky Romero, RPG Vice

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).

A form of Characters as Device. Compare Archetypal Character.


Subtropes

Other examples

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    Comic Books 

     Film 
  • Game of Death: The characters in the pagoda are this in the original version. One could ask if they spend all of their lives in the pagoda waiting for some challenger, however, they represent the formalized system of martial arts that Bruce Lee wanted to prove wrong. They are all beaten with some ease, however Kareem-Abdul Jabbar has an unknown fighting style that represents the highest level of martial arts.
  • Godzilla himself started in Gojira as an allegorical character representing the atomic bomb itself and the destruction it caused. His footsteps were even deliberately made to sound like explosions.
  • X-Men: Across the First Class trilogy, Professor X represents empathy, and depending on the story, he can also be a figure of peace, hope or love. For X-Men: First Class, he's emblematic of serenity, and without his participation during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the planet would've plunged into World War III (no Charles = no peace). For X-Men: Days of Future Past, his 1973 self must regain hope, otherwise by 2023, mutantkind is doomed to extinction (a hopeless past Xavier = a hopeless future for mutants). For X-Men: Apocalypse, his love is the only thing that can conquer fear (Jean Grey's trepidation over her Phoenix Force disappears when she senses the utmost trust the Professor has in her), hate and anger (the last two are felt by Magneto, but once he recalls how much he loves his old friend, he betrays Apocalypse); in this case, Charles = The Power of Love.
    • Furthermore, Xavier's emotional state is a metaphor for America's mindset during the time period these movies depict. In 1962, the character's optimism is an extension of the hopeful outlook President Kennedy's administration tended to exude, whereas Charles' melancholia in 1973 is not unlike the general malaise American citizens felt while under the shadow of The Vietnam War. Xavier's descent into despair began in 1963, which is the same year Kennedy was assassinated—the end of "Camelot"note  parallels the end of Professor X's school. At least in the Alternate Timeline, Charles starts to piece himself together again shortly after the Paris Peace Accords are signed. The '80s in the USA was an era of excess and materialism (both were regarded as not just acceptable, but desirable), so Xavier's vanity is at its peak in 1983, and we get to see much more of his lavish estate and everything he owns within its boundaries. The combination of his smug demeanour, dressing like he had just stepped off the set of Miami Vice, and driving around in a gorgeous, well-maintained vintage car announces to everyone that "I'm beautiful, I'm rich, and I love it."

     Literature 

    Live Action TV 

     Theater 

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • In Steven Universe, Stevonnie serves both as an allegory for a first relationship and entering puberty.
    Rebecca Sugar: [Stevonnie] serves as a metaphor for all the terrifying firsts in a first relationship, and what it feels like to hit puberty and suddenly find yourself with the body of an adult, how quickly that happens, how it feels to have a new power over people, or to suddenly find yourself objectified, all for seemingly no reason since you’re still just you...


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