Definition of Allegory

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An allegory (A) (from Greek allos, "other", and agoreuein, "to speak in public") is using words to convey a meaning other than (and in addition to) the literal. It is a representative type of communication.

Allegory is generally treated as a figure of rhetoric, used by both public speakers and writers.

The etymological meaning of the word is broader than the common use of the word. Though A is similar to other rhetorical comparisons, it is sustained longer and more fully in its details than a metaphor. It will appeal to the imagination, while an analogy will appeal to reason or logic. The fable or parable is a short A with one definite moral.

Since meaningful stories are nearly always applicable to larger issues, allegories are read into many stories, sometimes distorting their author's overt meaning.

An example of how this has happened is in suggesting that The Lord of the Rings was an A for the World Wars. This is an interpretation for which the author sharply denied, stating, "I cordially dislike A in all of its manifestations."

Northrop Frye discussed what he termed a "continuum of allegory", ranging from what he termed the "naive allegory" of The Faerie Queen, to the more private use in modern paradox literature. In this perspective, the characters in a "naive" A are not fully three-dimensional, for each aspect of their individual personalities and the events that befall them embodies some moral quality or other abstraction; the A has been selected first, and the details merely flesh it out.

Note...This is an excellent tool for weaving illustrations into your public speaking. However, as stated above, use care in how it is done lest someone in the audience takes offense to your use. Even worse, you may make an application that would be offensive to the entire audience. It is important to know the audience your speaking to.

Use requires right brain thinking or abstract creative thinking. The benefits could be limited to a group of left dominant scientists. Likewise children under 10 may not understand the meaning either.

Also be careful in using it where common use has resulted in an Urban Legend that distorts the truth. Failure in this area can cost a speaker credibility.

Speech Writing Home Page More on public speaking speech writing.

The Mind will take a deeper look at how you can reach the audience mind with allegories and other tools public speakers use.

From Allegory to Speechwriting The Allegory Resource

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