allegory

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allegory,

in literature, symbolic story that serves as a disguised representation for meanings other than those indicated on the surface. The characters in an allegory often have no individual personality, but are embodiments of moral qualities and other abstractions. The allegory is closely related to the parable, fable, and metaphor, differing from them largely in intricacy and length. A great variety of literary forms have been used for allegories. The medieval morality play Everyman, personifying such abstractions as Fellowship and Good Deeds, recounts the death journey of Everyman. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, a prose narrative, is an allegory of man's spiritual salvation. Spenser's poem The Faerie Queene, besides being a chivalric romance, is a commentary on morals and manners in 16th-century England as well as a national epic. Although allegory is still used by some authors, its popularity as a literary form has declined in favor of a more personal form of symbolic expression (see symbolistssymbolists,
in literature, a school originating in France toward the end of the 19th cent. in reaction to the naturalism and realism of the period. Designed to convey impressions by suggestion rather than by direct statement, symbolism found its first expression in poetry but
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).

Bibliography

See C. S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love (1936); P. de Man, Allegories of Reading (1979); M. Quilligan, The Language of Allegory (1979)

Allegory

A figurative representation or sculpture in which the meaning is conveyed by the use of symbols.

Allegory

 

a conventional representation, in art, of abstract ideas which are not assimilated in the artistic image but retain their independence and remain external to the image. The connection between image and meaning is ascertained in allegory by analogy (for example, the lion as the embodiment of strength). Unlike a symbol, which has multiple meanings, allegory is characterized by a unique, constant definition and is revealed not directly in the artistic image but only through interpretation of the obvious or hidden allusions and evidence contained in the image—that is, by subsuming the image under some concept (religious dogma, moral, philosophical, or scientific ideas, etc.). Insofar as the universal and the particular are inseparably intertwined in an artistic image, allegory cannot fully account for the content of the image, even while being a fundamental and necessary component of it.

The term “allegory” was first used in Longinus’ and Cicero’s treatises on rhetoric. In the aesthetics of the Middle Ages allegory was one of the four meanings contained in a work of art, in addition to the grammatical (literal), moral, and anagogical (edifying) meanings. As a specific form of artistic image, allegory was studied in detail by German aes-theticians of the 18th through the beginning of the 19th centuries (Winckelmann, Goethe, Schelling, Hegel, Solger, Schopenhauer, and others).

In literature many allegorical images are borrowed from mythology and folklore. Fables, morality plays, and parables, as well as many works of Eastern poetry of the Middle Ages, are built on allegory; it also appears in other genres (“The Three Springs” by A. S. Pushkin, the stories of M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin). In the mid-19th century the concept of allegory was narrowed to mean only an artistic technique.

In the fine arts, allegory (figures with constant attributes, groups of figures, and compositions embodying some concept) constitutes a separate genre whose features are discernible in the mythological pictures of antiquity. Allegories of virtue, vice, and the like, which were widespread during the Middle Ages, took on humanistic attributes during the Renaissance. Allegories in mannerist, baroque, and rococo art became particularly complex and refined. Classicism and academism viewed allegory as part of the “high” historical genre. In contemporary art allegory has given way to symbolic images with a more highly developed psychological imagery.

REFERENCES

Losev, A. F., and V. P. Shestakov. Istoriia esteticheskikh kategorii. Moscow, 1965. Pages 237–57.
Sorensen, B. A. Symbol und Symbolismus in den ästhetischen Theorien des XVIII. Jahrhunderts und der deutschen Romantik. Copenhagen, 1963.

allegory

allegory: Cathedral of Worms, 13th cent. The beast with four heads symbolizes the Four Gospels
A figurative representation in which the meaning is conveyed symbolically.

allegory

1. a poem, play, picture, etc., in which the apparent meaning of the characters and events is used to symbolize a deeper moral or spiritual meaning
2. the technique or genre that this represents
3. use of such symbolism to illustrate truth or a moral
References in periodicals archive ?
At once quiet and quietist, Jarrell's poetic allegories of the body in a state of becoming--and not strictly those of the body in pain--breathed new life into the form and method of allegory as an instrument of poetry.
The unifying essentialist principle Tolkien deploys is thus the assumption that allegory is in essence an impoverished and impoverishing genre, a perspective that finds its proof in many dry and didactic allegories.
Through a series of case studies of early modern visual allegories found in painting, sculpture, prints, festivity, and urban spaces, the volume invites readers to consider how the disconnect between the abstract ideas expressed in allegory and its physical embodiment challenged both the production and interpretation of allegorical images.
Not only does Seditious Allegories offer cogent analyses of political ideology, it also tells fascinating stories in readable prose.
Fletcher notes the tendency of allegories to infinite extension and, as a result, 'arbitrary closure'.
Superman Returns'' is a comic book movie for people who like virtuous superheroes, soap-opera story lines and blatant messianic allegories.
The remaining two, titled (somewhat ambiguously) Allegories of Navigation, are on loan from the Los Angeles County Museum.
Such are the words of Pliny the Younger that Eleanor Antin reproduced on the wall at the entrance to her latest show, "Roman Allegories.
Painted allegories like the Allegory of Mercy require prolonged attention, and they resist simple characterization.
In his Allegories of Reading--in its concluding and rather 'telling' chapter titled "Excuses"--Paul de Man refers to irony as the key rhetorical and linguistic figure of his allegorical readings: "Irony is no longer a trope but the undoing of the deconstructive allegory of all tropological cognitions, the systematic undoing, in other words, of understanding.
constructed allegories to advance particular agendas.
The language is grown-up and the allegories are painfully amusing--another winner by Garcia.