The main difference between allegory and metaphor is that allegory has characters, images, and events as symbols that reflect hidden meanings whereas a metaphor is an indirect comparison between two unrelated things in a piece of literature.
allegory versus metaphor
Allegory is a term in literature in which different characters, images, and events act as symbols. Metaphor is a term in literature that is defined as the indirect comparison between two unrelated things. Allegory is a literary device that adds a hidden meaning to the text. A metaphor is a literary device that compares two separate things. Allegory is not only seen in literature but also in sculptures, paintings, etc. Metaphor typically belongs to literature.
The allegory symbolizes things; is making use of symbolism. A metaphor compares things to explain them fully. Therefore, it makes use of images. Allegories always have a hidden meaning. Metaphors have no hidden meaning. An allegory is considered a stand-in for another object or action. It has clear points. A metaphor mainly refers to imaginary or fictitious things. He has vague notions. The word allegory derives from the Latin ‘Allegoria’, which has the meaning of figurative or veiled language. The word metaphor is derived from the Old French “Metáfora”, from the Latin “Metaphora”, which means “transfer”.
An allegory is revealing the facts. It is closer to reality. A metaphor does not state a fact and does not necessarily relate to reality. Allegory generally refers to things that have a larger scope or message, for example, morality, politics, culture, etc. Metaphors have no hidden or underlying meaning. An allegory is also known as an extended metaphor. A metaphor is a phrasal expression that is simpler than the allegory. Allegory is a broader comparison that covers the entire passage, essay, or novel. A metaphor is a brief comparison consisting of words or sentences.
|A term in literature in which different characters, images, and events act as symbols.||A term in the literature that is defined as the indirect comparison between two unrelated things|
|Use of literary devices|
|Add a hidden meaning to the text||Compare two unrelated things|
|Has to do with morals or politics||no hidden meaning|
|Idea / Scope|
|Longer duration passages||Shorter words/phrases|
|connection to reality|
What is the allegory?
Allegory is a work of art/literature that serves to reveal the hidden meanings behind that very work of art or literature. The characters, events or objects act as symbols in the allegory. It usually refers to political, moral, ethical, religious, cultural ideas or insights about human life. Allegory is not only found in prose/verse form, but also in the form of sculptures, paintings, and the like.
The allegory gives a broader scope to the story and makes its characters multidimensional. In an allegory, things represent something more substantial than what they represent literally. The use of animals to represent communism and the Russian revolution is known as allegory. Sometimes even simple stories that give a moral fall into the category of allegory because they have hidden meanings. Examples are the boy who cried wolf, the ant and the grasshopper, the wolf and the lamb, the tortoise and the hare, etc.
The best example of allegory is the apple that Adam ate at Eve’s insistence. That apple symbolizes the knowledge between good and evil. Allegory is a figurative use of language when a writer wants to express a complex idea or image. Symbolism is the essential element of an allegory. Uses objects, characters, figures, or symbolic actions to discover ideas about human nature, political situations, or historical events.
- ‘Animal Farm’ (George Orwell’s)
- Faerie Queene (Edmund Spenser)
- ‘Allegory of the cave’ (Plato)
- ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ (John Bunyan)
- The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
- ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ (S. Lewis)
- ‘Lord of the Flies’ (William Golding)
What is a metaphor?
A metaphor is a literary device that reflects the implicit comparison between two unrelated things. Unlike similes, metaphors do not have the connecting words, for example like or like. It says one thing exactly the same as the other. The word metaphor is derived from the Old French “Metáfora”, from the Latin “Metaphora”, which means “transfer”.
A metaphor uses an applicable literary comparison. Such a comparison can transfer the meaning/aspects of one word/phrase to another. It is a type of figurative language that describes a thing as something that it is not. The University of North Carolina at Pembroke states that “the use of a metaphor is likely to reveal interesting qualities of the subject that a reader did not notice before.”
A metaphor gives style to a literary work, adding meaning to ordinary things, ideas and people, etc. For example, the metaphor “Life is not a bed of roses”, life and a bed of roses are two things that are not related in a complex way. However, the clarity of the bed of roses is a comparison with life. This implies that life is not as easy and comfortable as the bed of roses. The Silken Tent” is a love poem that is a metaphor. The poems begin with “She is like a silk shop in a field.” In this poem, “The Silk Shop” is used as a metaphor for the poet’s beloved.
- My little sister is a firecracker.
- It cannot be said that life is a bed of roses because it is not.
- You are the sun in my dark mornings.
- Life is a journey, sometimes long, sometimes short.
- Allegory is a literary device that adds a hidden meaning to the text, while a metaphor is a literary device that compares two unrelated things.
- Allegory is not only seen in literature, but also in sculptures, paintings, etc. On the other hand, metaphor typically belongs to literature.
- The allegory symbolizes things in this way; it is to make use of symbolizes, on the contrary, the metaphor compares the thing to fully explain it; hence it makes use of images.
- An allegory is considered a stand-in for another object or action, while metaphor refers to fictional things.
- Allegories always carry a hidden meaning, conversely, metaphors do not carry a hidden meaning.
- An allegory is closer to reality on the other hand; a metaphor does not necessarily relate to reality.
- Allegory usually refers to things that have a broader scope or message, for example, morality, politics, culture, etc. on the contrary, metaphors do not have any underlying or hidden meaning.
- The word allegory is derived from the Latin ‘Allegoria’, which has the meaning of figurative or veiled language in the reciprocal, the word metaphor is derived from the Old French ‘Metáfora’, from the Latin ‘Metaphora’, which means ‘transfer’.
- An allegory is also known as an extended metaphor; on the other hand, a metaphor is a simpler phrasal expression than the allegory.
- Allegory is a broader comparison that encompasses an entire passage, essay, or novel; on the contrary, the metaphor is a short comparison consisting of words or sentences.
Allegory and metaphor are the two different literary devices. The difference between them based on their definition, use, symbolism, origin and their application in specific texts.