February 5, 2023
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Articles Writng Styles

Allegory – A Writer’s Tool

“Allegories, when well chosen, are like so many tracks of light in a discourse, that make everything about them clear and beautiful” – Joseph Addison

Some of the most famous allegories of the past century would arguably be “The Chronicles of Narnia by author C.S. Lewis.

In this allegory, Lewis presented his entertaining stories, using animals and creatures of his own imagination. These stories are wonderfully crafted in that they can stand on their own as delightful stories. However, the point of allegory is to present a story that serves another purpose with a separate meaning.

According to Encarta, an allegory is defined as a, “symbolic work: a work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual, moral, or political meaning.”

John Bunyan chose a more classic approach to his allegory “A Pilgrim’s Progress”. In Bunyan’s book, the characters actually derive their names from the characteristic they espoused. For instance, Christian was a Believer, The Slough of Despond caused those who fell in to become despondent and desire to give up the journey, other self-titled characters include Evangelist, Obstinate and Pliable.

The use of allegory is well-noted in classic children’s literature. A moral is often placed in the actions and decisions of the characters. Often the primary figures in allegory are either animals or creatures of fantasy.

Allegory is a writing style that is somewhat specialized and stands out when it is submitted to a publisher. This is not to say that all allegories are published. In fact, very few are published today. However, the use of allegory can drive a point home in ways that many other styles of writing cannot.

Interestingly, J.R.R. Tokien, who was a close friend of C.S. Lewis, was not fond of allegory. He once wrote, “I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.”

Tolkien insisted that his Lord of the Ring stories were devoid of allegory, yet many have seen a distinct allegorical tie to moral truths within the pages of these stories.

In the end, allegory is simply one tool in the arsenal of a writer. It may not be widely used, but it should be understood and accepted as an effective means of conveying a point of view.

Source by Scott Lindsay

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