What is an allegory?
Let’s start with a
bunch of definitions.
• a story in which people, things,
and happenings have a hidden
or symbolic meaning: allegories
are used for teaching or
explaining ideas, moral
principles, etc.
• a narrative (that means story) in
which characters and action
represent concepts different from
the literal meaning of the story.
• Extending a metaphor
(comparison) through an entire
speech, passage or story so that
objects, persons, and actions in
the text are equated with
meanings that lie outside the text.
• a story with both a literal
and symbolic meaning
(characters, events or things
in the story represent
something else)
• An allegory is a fictional story
that refers to a real life
situation using metaphors
• a story in which the characters and events
are symbols that stand for ideas about
human life or for a political or historical
situation (learner’
Still confused?
Well then, let’s look
at some examples.
One evening an
old Cherokee told his
grandson about a battle
that goes on inside
He said, "My son,
the battle is between
two wolves inside us
One is evil. It is anger,
envy, jealousy, sorrow,
regret, greed, arrogance,
self-pity, guilt, resentment,
inferiority, lies, false pride,
superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy,
peace, love, hope, serenity,
humility, kindness,
benevolence, empathy,
generosity, truth,
compassion, and faith."
The grandson thought
about it for a minute
and then asked his
grandfather, "Which
wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee
simply replied,
"The one you feed."
How is the story
of the two wolves
an allegory?
Think about the story
of Goldilocks and the
Three Bears.
How is the
story of
and the
Bears an
Aesop's fables are examples of simple
allegories, such as:
The Ant and the Grasshopper - the
grasshopper fails to provide for the winter
while wasting time mocking the ant.
The Dog and his Shadow - where the dog
sees his reflection in a stream, and thinks
the "other dog" has a larger piece of meat.
He drops the one he's holding to grab it, and
loses the meat in the water.
The Tortoise and the Hare
• The story of the tortoise and the hare is an
allegory, expressing the belief that the
slow and steady will always defeat the
quick and prideful in the end. In Aesop’s
popular fable two different distinct
personality types compete, with the winner
living slow and stable over the loser’s fast
and impetuous lifestyle.
The Tortoise and the Hare
• The hare has often been linked to youthful
virility and physical vitality. The tortoise, on
the other hand, is linked to age and
tiredness. Two anthropomorphized
creatures (animals given human qualities)
compete for superiority, with the tortoise
victor awarded fame, while the loser hare
stews in his own disgrace, having failed to
heed his elder's wisdom on matters of
effective racing strategies.
The blindfolded figure with scales
is an allegory of justice.
What is Dr.
Star Bellied
an allegory
• A great example of allegory is Dr.
Seuss‘s work. He compares
animals and different things that
they have to symbolize so many
different things. One example is
The Sneetches. Animals think
they're greater than other animals
because they have a star on their
How is The Wizard
of Oz an allegory?
Some scholars have theorized that the images and
characters used by Baum and Denslow closely
resembled political images that were well known in the
1890s, specifically the debate of the day regarding
monetary policy: the "Yellow Brick Road" represents the
gold standard, the silver slippers (which were ruby
slippers in the film version) represent the sixteen to one
silver ratio (dancing down the road).
Many other characters and story lines represent
identifiable people or circumstances of the day. The
wicked witches of the east and west represented the
local banks and the railroad industry, respectively, both
of which drove small farmers out of business.
The scarecrow represents the farmers of the
Populist party, who managed to get out of debt by
making more silver coinage. The return to
bimetallism would increase inflation, thus lowering
the real value of their debts.
The Tin Woodman represents the factory workers of
the industrialized North, whom the Populists saw as
being so hard-pressed to work grueling hours for
little money that the workers had lost their human
hearts and become mechanized themselves. (See
Second Industrial Revolution)
Toto was thought to be short for teetotaler, another word
for a prohibitionist; it should be noted that William
Jennings Bryan, the fiery popular candidate (possibly the
Lion character) from the Populist Party, was a teetotaler
Bryan also fits the allegorical reference to the Cowardly
Lion in that he retreated from his support of free silver
after economic conditions improved in the late 1890s.
However, it has also been suggested the cowardly Lion
represented Wall Street investors, given the economic
climate of the time.
The Munchkins represented the common people
(serfdom), while the emerald city represented Washington
and its green-paper money delusion.
The Wizard, a charlatan who tricks people into believing
he wields immense power, would represent the President.
The kiss from the Good Witch of the North is the electoral
mandate; Dorothy must destroy the Wicked Witch of the
West-the old West Coast "establishment" (money) with
water (the US was suffering from drought). Moreover, "Oz"
is the abbreviation for the measuring of these precious
metals: ounces.
Some biographers and scholars of Baum disagree,
pointing to details of Baum's biography, his own
statements and writing about the purpose of his
book…The consensus is that the books are written mainly
for the pleasure of Baum's younger readers, to give them
a sense of possibility and imagination.'The_Wizard_of_
Any number of Disney's animated films or others
made by Dreamworks and other production
companies where animals or robots or even toys
are depicted in a way is a figurative parallel to
human behavior. For example, The Lion King,
which tells a tale of young lion cub who is forced
to grow into adulthood early because of
circumstances that force him to deal with in an
adult way. Disney has touted this film as being
the first animated film that Disney has made that
is not based on a story by someone else and
claim it is an original story.
Perhaps the writers and producers and studio
executives have never seen or heard of William
Shakespeare's Hamlet, but The Lion King is
remarkably similar to Hamlet where Simba
parallels Hamlet, the evil Uncle Scar parallels
Caudius and Simbas mother, of course, parallels
Hamlet's mother. The only striking difference
between these two stories is in Hamlet practically
everybody dies but not so in the Lion King,, and
Simba lives happily ever after with Hamlet's
parallel of Ophelia.

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