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Related to allegory: allusion, Allegory of the cave


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

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A figurative representation or sculpture in which the meaning is conveyed by the use of symbols.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
However, it wrongly interprets the Passage, ignoring the fact that the Passage tries to define "the figural mode with the ethical tonality" (de Man, Allegories of Reading 188), the immanent ethicity of rhetorical devices, of allegory as a trope, and has nothing to do with the making of ethical judgments, pertaining to the practical ethical (moralistic), thematic dimensions.
Crawford's critique of allegorical discourse begins with arguably the first consistent literary allegory, Prudentius's Psychomachia.
Integreon said the addition of Allegory allows it to extend its lead in the discovery space and provide an end-to-end solution for legal departments and outside counsel for managing the entire case and all of discovery, not just the document discovery piece.
Whereas the symbol postulated the possibility of an identity of identification, allegory designates primarily a distance in relation to its own origin and, renouncing the nostalgia and the desire to coincide, it establishes its language in the void of this temporal difference.
Henri de Lubac took offense to Danielou's rendering of the matter, accusing him of displacing the Christian terminology and use of allegory (used by Paul in Gal 4:24) and introducing a concept foreign to ancient Christian exegesis--typology.
Through this partnership with Allegory, Huron will to offer clients an end-to-end litigation management tool designed to be used throughout a case.
At the Year 9 and 10 level, students may not be familiar with Russian history, so a structured overview will help them make sense of the allegory in Orwell's text without being overwhelmed by too much historical detail.
Critique: As informed and informative as it is stunningly beautiful, Marilyn Aronberg Lavin's An Allegory of Divine Love: The Netherlandish Blockbook "Canticum Canticorum" is very highly recommended for academic library collections and would be an enduringly popular Memorial Fund acquisition for community libraries.
For the project, Allegory selected materials that could adapt to the day-to-night shift.
As a frame for reading modernist writers from James Joyce to Andre Malraux to Wallace Stevens, Melaney situates his approach in the context of the two opening chapters that make up "Part I: Allegories of Discourse." The first chapter works from Benjamin's theory of allegory to Melaney's allegorical and material language; the second chapter compares the work of Adorno and Derrida to bring the aesthetic and linguistic discourses together in the material difference of allegorical modernism.
What is immediately apparent about Landscape Allegory in Cinema is that it sacrifices a tightly constructed and carefully periodized historical argument for a comprehensive (though not quite exhaustive) account of a tendency that has been around almost as long as representation itself.