How to ...Identify an Allegory

Definition of Allegory:

An allegory, /ˈæl.ə.ɡɔːr.i/ (International Phonetic Alphabet), is a literary device that artfully combines symbols, characters, or events to convey concealed, deeper meanings or impart moral messages. It often weaves a narrative structure that invites interpretation on multiple levels.

Etymology and Origin:

The term "allegory" derives from the Greek words "αλληγορία" (allegoria), meaning "speaking otherwise." Allegories flourished during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.


Allegories have the distinctive quality of enveloping symbols that represent abstract ideas, moral values, or political concepts. These symbols may require thoughtful analysis, as their meaning isn't always immediately apparent.

Allegories allow readers to discern various meanings and insights and formulate different interpretations.

A hallmark of allegory is the presence of concealed messages or moral lessons. Authors employ these allegorical elements to communicate moral, philosophical, or political themes.


Animal Farm by George Orwell: the animals of the farm represent different social classes and political figures. Their interactions mimic the tumultuous events of the Russian Revolution and the ascent of totalitarianism.

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan: A religious allegory. This epic narrative, filled with symbolic characters and events, tells the spiritual journey of Christian to the Celestial City.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis: This enchanting tale, interwoven with Christian themes, features Aslan, the majestic lion, who symbolically embodies Christ. The land of Narnia portrays a world in dire need of salvation.

How to Identify Allegories in Texts?

So, now that you've explored the intriguing realm of allegory, you may be eager to identify allegories in the texts you encounter. Here's a troubleshooter guide to assist you in unveiling the concealed meanings in literature:

- Pay Attention to Symbolism: In this step, it's important to find symbols that represent abstract ideas, moral values, or political concepts. For a practical illustration, let's take a look at F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." The ever-persistent green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan's dock stands as a symbol representing the unattainable American Dream, a central theme in the story. This exemplifies how symbols carry profound meaning within literature.

- Consider Multiple Interpretations: Keep in mind that allegories are open to diverse interpretations. Embrace the idea that different readers may unravel distinct meanings and insights, fostering a richness of perspectives.

- Seek Hidden Messages: Concealed messages or moral lessons are the essence of allegory. Dive into the text to unearth the author's intended political, philosophical, or moral messages.

- Analyze Character Representations: Characters within an allegory often hold allegorical significance. To illustrate this, let's examine an excerpt from George Orwell's "Animal Farm." In this text, characters like Napoleon the pig and Snowball symbolize political figures such as Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. The interactions between the characters and their roles in the story reveal the political allegory within the text. Here's an example to demonstrate this:

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Orwell uses the animals on the farm to symbolize the unequal balance of power in a totalitarian state in this line.

- Consider Historical and Cultural Context: Sometimes, allegories are closely tied to historical or cultural contexts. Understanding the time and place in which a text was written can provide valuable insights into its allegorical elements.

LnT suggests

LnT the reading of the blogpost 'Hidden Meanings in Todd Phillips'"Joker"'