10 Examples of Allegory

The allegory is a literary figure or rhetoric that represents a concept or idea through images metaphorical or allusive to convey something different from what is expressed. For example: U na woman with a balance in one hand, a sword in the other and blindfolded represents justice.

Allegories leave aside the denotative or literal sense , to give preponderance to the figurative sense . They make the conceptual visible, that is, they capture in an image (which can include objects, people or animals) that idea or concept that does not have it.

  • See also: Parables

Types of allegory

  • In the paint. Painters such as Botticelli and El Bosco used allegories to artistically represent abstract ideas, through attributes or figures. For example: The Garden of Earthly Delights , by Bosco and Allegory of Spring , by Botticelli.
  • In philosophy . Allegories are resources that philosophers use in treatises and texts to explain their ideas. For example: The allegory of the cave , by Plato.
  • In literature . There are several literary works that appeal to allegories, or that are so in their entirety. An example of the latter case is Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy . The bible , meanwhile, has numerous allegories in order to transmit ethical and moral teachings.
  • In sculpture . The sculptures are figures that symbolize, generally through human figures, their gestures and clothing, abstract ideas. For example: the statue of Prudence that represents the truth through a woman who squeezes a snake and holds a mirror.

Examples of allegories

  1. The allegory of the cave , by Plato . The Greek philosopher appealed to this narrative to explain the relationship between human beings and knowledge. Through it he expresses the theory of how people capture the two worlds that exist, according to his theory: the intelligible and the sensible. The sensible world is the one that is perceived by the senses, and corresponds to the shadows that the men chained in the cave perceive. Meanwhile, in the world outside that cave is the intelligible world, where the idea of ​​Good exists, represented by the sun.
  2. The Garden of Earthly Delights , by El Bosco . The painter Jheronimus Bosch symbolizes, through this triptych-shaped painting, the beginning and the end of man. In the first table include Genesis and Paradise. In the third, locate Hell. And in the middle (which is the largest) symbolizes the loss of grace, through the illustration of various carnal pleasures.
  3. Allegory of Faith , by Johannes Vermeer van Delft. In this painting, faith is represented by a woman sitting next to a table supported by a bible, a chalice, and a crucifix. The work also shows the cornerstone that crushes a snake located next to the apple of sin. In the background there is also a painting with the crucifixion of Christ and a checkered floor. Art historians have given various interpretations to this work over time.
  4. The divine comedy , by Dante Alighieri . This poem (written by the Italian author during the fourteenth century) is characterized by a language full of symbols to express his knowledge and philosophical and moral positions. The plot revolves around the journey that Dante takes, guided by the poet Virgilio, until he finds his identity. On his journey, Dante goes through hell, which symbolizes despair; then through purgatory, which represents hope; and finally reaches paradise, symbol of salvation.
  5. Lady of Justice . The sculpture of a woman who is blindfolded, a balance in one hand and a sword in the other represents justice. It is a work inspired by the Greek goddess Themis, who imposed the natural seasons, that is, the order in nature. The sword symbolizes the execution of the measures, it is the means that the goddess uses to convince both parties about their decisions. Blindfolds mean that those decisions were made impartially, without any influence. Meanwhile, the balanced scale symbolizes modern justice.
  6. Freedom illuminating the world . Better known as The Statue of Liberty , this monument in New York symbolizes, through personification, the concept of political freedom. It was a gift from France to the United States for the 100th anniversary of its independence. Among the symbols that make up the statue is the seven-pointed crown worn by the woman, representing the seven continents. In addition, in her left hand, the woman holds some boards that symbolize the declaration of the independence of that country. The torch he holds in his right hand is the symbol of freedom.
  7. The persistence of memory , by Salvador Dalí. Also known as The Soft Clocks , this painting symbolizes the disintegration of matter and the present as a consequence of the passage of time.
  8. Farm Rebellion, by George Orwell . With a satirical tone, the English author depicts how Stalin’s Soviet regime corrupts the socialist system. This idea is transmitted through a story starring animals that live on a farm and expel tyrant men, to create their own system of government that ultimately leads to a terrible tyranny.
  9. The art of painting , by Johannes Vermeer . This 17th-century painting has as its theme the muse of History, Clío. Its alternative title is Allegory of Painting . The experts identified several aspects of a symbolic nature within the work that shows a painter in his studio and a model posing for him. For example, the fact that the chandeliers do not have candles would symbolize the suppression of the Catholic faith, in a strongly Protestant Holland. Another example is the intense light that reaches the model, who would be a personification of the muse.


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