Allegory: One thing expressed, but another understood  allegory

The word allegory’, derived from the Greek words for another, and to speak, means, literally, saying one thing and meaning another.

Allegory: One thing expressed, another understood

From English Composition and Rhetoric, by Alexander Bain, Aids to English Composition, by Richard Green Parker, and Elements of Rhetoric, by Henry Coppée

I. An allegory is a continued metaphor.

A. It is the representation of one thing by another that resembles it.
B. When the resemblance is long dwelt upon and carried into all its minute circumstances, an allegory is produced instead of a metaphor.

II. An allegory is often used to convey some moral or instruction.

As a figure it implies telling a story, the events and personages of which are fictitious, but which in their combination illustrate what is true and important.
A. The Pilgrim’s Progress is a well-known example.
In it the spiritual life or progress of the Christian is represented at length by the story of a pilgrim in search of a distant country, which he reaches after many struggles and difficulties.
B. Chaucer’s House of Fame is an allegory, imitated by Pope in his Temple of Fame.
C. Spenser’s Faerie Queene is allegorical throughout.
The virtues and vices are personified and made to act out their nature in a series of supposed adventures.
D. Swift’s A Tale of a Tub, “written for the universal improvement of mankind,” is an allegory.
The divisions of Christianity (Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinistic) are represented as three brothers, whose adventures are related. So, in the Travels of Gulliver, the vices of politicians are ridiculed by being exemplified in communities made up of imaginary beings (Liliputians or dwarfs, Brobdingnagians or giants, Houyhnhnms, Yahoos).


III. An allegory gives the reader the appearance of instructing himself

A. The analogy is intended to be so obvious that the reader cannot miss the application. However, he is left to draw the proper conclusion for his own use.
B. Allegory is, for this reason, chiefly used when a writer desires to communicate some important intelligence or advice; but is not permitted, or does not wish, to deliver it in plain terms

C. There is something akin to wit in telling a man what is personal, and leaving it to himself to make the application of it; and if, as in the powerful story of David and Nathan, it is so adroitly done that the meaning remains hidden until the moral has been inculcated in an impersonal manner, the application, “Thou art the man,” is all the more forcible and complete.

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