Some authors like to hide multiple meanings and lessons in their stories or plot to improve the complexities of their narrative. This technique and narrative structure is called an allegory.
An allegory is a narrative structure that the author can adopt to let the story or plot have another hidden meaning or lesson integrated into their writing. If you want to learn more about allegories and how to handle them, feel free to examine any of the literary examples of allegorical interpretations of different books named Animal Farm and the Lord of the Flies on the links above.
Some allegories are harder to extract and explain to other people, as this is very reliant on the author’s perspective and narrative structure. If you want to extract all the lessons and interpretations from a narrative then it is best to examine the whole narrative arc in more depth.
A narrative will always have character/s that will push the narrative forward. Begin by analyzing the overall personalities and attitudes of all the characters in the narrative. This will help you relate their personalities and journeys to the plot, which will aid you in crystallizing the hidden meaning in the narrative.
The plot of the narrative can present itself as either a direct path or a winding and interconnected story full of complex intricacies. One of the best ways to extract the hidden meaning of an allegory is to create a short outline or mindmap of the overarching narrative plot.
After you have created an outline or mindmap of the plot elements, you must examine the conclusion of the narrative and how it relates to both the character and the plot. This will help you find different meanings and contexts that the narrative is trying to sneakily convey to its readers.
Another way to extract the hidden meaning of a narrative is to relate it to the time the narrative is written, as this can provide a specific context that would otherwise be very difficult to pick up due to time differences. Not only that, but you will also need to check and relate the author’s perspective to the plot and the characters.
An allegory is a specific type of narrative or story that has a specific trajectory or purpose but the message or the lesson of the story refers to something else entirely. A metaphor, on the other hand, is one to two statements that try to relate two ideas, contexts, or concepts to one another, either by the juxtaposition or comparison of both points. This means that an allegory is longer as it tries to have a whole narrative arc or story for the reader to peruse and read, while a metaphor is very short and tries to compare two ideas instead of doing a misdirect. Not only that but an allegory tries to use literary devices to misdirect the reader about the whole direction of the story whilst giving a lesson about the whole narrative journey.
The story of The Three Little Pigs is a fable that talks about the story of three little pig brothers and their efforts in trying to save themselves from the clutches of a big bad wolf. Each pig brother chooses a specific material to create their house or home, starting with straws and ending with bricks. A person can infer that the intended lesson of the fable is that hard work and smart choices lead the individual to the situation they want to be in. If one were to dig deeper and examine the story, then a person can also conclude a different lesson from the story. A person can conclude that the story of the Three Little Pigs can be an allegory about how unexpected things can happen even when we feel like we are in the safety of a shelter.
The four types of historical allegories, used in the Bible and the middle ages, are categorized based on their literal meaning and the time the lesson should be applied in. The first is a straightforward, historically accurate, and unmotivated literal reading of the story’s events. The second is known as typology, which links the Old Testament’s events with the New Testament; in particular, it makes allegoric comparisons between the events of Christ’s life and the Old Testament tales. The third is moral, or how one ought to conduct oneself in public. Anagogical allegory, the fourth category, is concerned with future occurrences.
An allegory is a written narrative that directs the reader to a specific direction, point, and lesson but has a different hidden meaning within the story of the allegory. This means that if the reader wants to absorb all the lessons and concepts presented in the narrative then they will need to do a deep dive and examine the allegory to obtain said meanings and interpretations.