What is Allegory?

What is Allegory

A story that uses its characters, plot, and setting to communicate a deeper meaning.

Allegory in Literature

  • Adds layers of meaning
  • Results in multidimensional stories and characters
  • Communicates indirectly


  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is an allegory representing Christianity.
  • Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan allegorizes the Christian’s journey from faith to death to eternity.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding uses a group of boys stranded on an island, struggling to survive and competing for dominance, to represent the failings of human nature.

Allegory vs. Metaphor

Allegory uses the entire narrative to express a deeper idea.

Metaphor uses only a word or phrase to compare ideas.

Allegory vs. Parable

A parable is a short story designed to teach. One example is The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Allegory uses symbolism to address big-picture problems (like war and inequality).

Click here to go back to the literary devices homepage.