What is allegory: definition, features and examples


An allegory is a literary device that uses symbolic figures, actions, or events to represent abstract ideas or moral concepts. It often involves a narrative or a story in which characters and events have a deeper, metaphorical meaning beyond the literal interpretation. Allegories are used to convey complex ideas, social or political commentary, and moral lessons.


  1. Symbolism: Allegories rely heavily on symbolism, where characters, objects, or events represent something beyond their literal meaning. These symbols often have a one-to-one correspondence with the abstract concept or moral they represent.
  2. Multiple Layers of Meaning: Allegories have multiple levels of interpretation. On the surface, they tell a story with characters and events, but beneath that lies a deeper meaning or message that addresses a broader concept or moral truth.
  3. Moral or Didactic Intent: Allegories often aim to teach a lesson or convey a moral message. They explore and illuminate ethical, philosophical, or social issues by presenting them in a fictional or metaphorical context.
  4. Universality: Allegories have a universal appeal as they address timeless themes and truths that resonate across cultures and time periods. They provide a way to explore abstract ideas through concrete narratives, making them accessible and relatable to a wide audience.


  1. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell: This allegorical novel uses farm animals to represent political figures and societal systems. It critiques the corruption and power dynamics of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.
  2. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia series contains Christian allegorical elements, with the lion Aslan symbolizing Jesus Christ and the battle between good and evil.
  3. “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding: This novel uses a group of boys stranded on an uninhabited island to symbolize the inherent evil and savagery within human nature.
  4. “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan: This religious allegory follows the journey of a character named Christian as he faces various obstacles and temptations on his path towards salvation.
  5. “The Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum: Although primarily a children’s fantasy, the story can be interpreted as an allegory for the political and economic climate of the United States in the late 19th century, with the characters representing various social classes and political figures.

Also read; Alliteration: Definition, Key aspects and Examples