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Skill

Work out a definition of an allegory. Consult some authentic English-speaking websites in order to find information on other allegories.

Objective

Expand your cultural knowledge by learning about the characteristics of allegories. Learn to identify stories you know as allegories and get to know some new ones.

An allegory1Source: https://www.coursehero.com/file/50438514/Introduction-to-Allegory/; last access: July 14th, 2021., put most simply, is a story that can be read on two levels: literally and symbolically. For example, on the literal level, Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare can be read literally as a story about a rabbit and a tortoise having a race during which the rabbit takes a nap thinking he has a safe lead, though the tortoise eventually overcomes the hare during his nap and wins the race.

However, as we have discussed, the fable is also meant to be read allegorically, meaning the characters can represent abstract qualities (personality traits: clever, caring, depressed) or ideas (justice, morality), or historical figures/events (Martin Luther King, the American Civil War).

The hare represents overconfidence. It’s belief in its inherent superiority proves its downfall. Conversely, the tortoise makes it to the finish line and wins because of his steady resolve to finish, and thus the famous moral is established: “slow and steady wins the race.” The instructional element of the fable comes from its allegorical nature – the playing out of these character traits in characters.

Assignment

Summarize the characteristics of an allegory. Then, either try to remember allegories that you know, or do research on the web to find some. Fill in a table like this:

Title of the text (Film, novel, story…)Story toldMeaning implied

Then, prepare to present what you’ve found to your classmates.