Apart from being a literary device, what comes to your mind when you hear this word, allegory? What is the simplest way you can make a novice understand it?

This is how I understand it.

When you have some truth to tell and you dont know how to tell it, or you know how to tell it but don’t want to tell it as it is – direct, ( truth is hard you know. It’s possible you don’t want to offend the particular person or set of people it’s meant for). That’s when common sense tells you to do it in some other way that is indirect.

You use a story, poem, event, or image, which can be interpreted to reveal the hidden meaning within the story or the moral, political, or religious lessons it portrays.

You use symbolic characters and events in your surface story. The surface story has a hidden story to it and that hidden one is the actual story you mean to tell, the very reason why you’re telling the surface story in the first place.

The hidden meaning in some allegories can be easily understood while some need to be interpreted to bring out the meaning.

Allegory can be associated with fable, parable and apologue.

Simple Definition

Allegory has been the earliest form of literature, seen as an extended metaphor – one thing to show the readers something else and has been used in many literary works.

A Simple Literary Example of Allegory in Folktale, Tortoise and the Hare

In the story above, the event and the characters – Tortoise and the Hare are symbolic.

What is the hidden meaning in the story and what are the moral lessons?

This is an allegory for how people should go about things in their lives. The Tortoise represents someone who takes time to do things but does things right, while the Hare represents someone who does things fast but makes costly mistakes because of it.

Moral lessons

– Slow and steady wins the race.

– The race is not always to the swifter one

-Do not underestimate anyone no matter their weakness.

Allegory has its importance in literature due to the fact that it helps a writer to use interesting symbolic events and characters to tell a truth or pass a complex message.