Difference Between Allegory vs Metaphor

Difference Between Allegory vs Metaphor

Writing is a deeply-seated part of formal education. On that note, every literate person must have written one thing or the other at some point, but that does not make him or her a writer. It is an art that takes more than what is being taught within the four walls of educational organizations.

It requires the development of literary devices that helps with communication, comprehension, and problem-solving. Speaking of literary devices, we will be talking about the difference between metaphor and allegory. Both of these are used to simplify a context, but they have unique traits that make them different from one another.

Definition of Allegory

An allegory can be defined as an art or literary device that has a hidden meaning that may be moral, political, or otherwise. From another perspective, it can also be defined as a section of art used in expressing large complex ideas in a more comprehensive manner.

A story with this figure of speech would usually have characters and events that represent ideas of human existence as it has to do with politics, history, morality, and so on.

This figure of speech has been in existence from a very early stage. Early scholars like Plato, Cicero, and Augustine made use of it in their days. However, it became especially popular in the middle ages with the increase in literacy. More people started using this literary device in their prose and verses with the goal of making their work multidimensional.

One of the most interesting instances in the metaphor vs allegory comparison can be seen in “Animal Farm,” a book written by George Orwell who used animals to depict the Russian revolution and communism.

More often than not, people would refer to this story as a political plot, but it also has some underlying moral meaning to it. Other examples of books based on this literary device are “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathanial Hawthorne, “Aesop’s Fable,” “The Faerie Queene” by Edmund Spenser, and so on.

Definition of Metaphor

A metaphor is defined as a figure of speech that refers to one thing by mentioning another for a literal effect. It can also be defined as a literary device that compares one thing to another for a rhetorical effect.

This term is originally Greek, derived from the word “metaphora.” It can be used in a simple manner, like “A is Z,” and it can also be used in broader contexts that may include other forms of literary devices, for example simile.

What is the purpose of this figure of speech? They are used when making a direct comparison between two different characters with the goal of attributing a particular quality to one. Beyond that, experts point out that this literary device can be used to strengthen a literary piece in two different ways. One is to make a faster meaning, and two is to infuse some uncertainty in a situation.

This saves you the time you may have spent trying to describe how beautiful a baby is (for instance). You can simply say, “The baby is a perfect work of art.” With the right words, you can also strengthen your work with some level of mystery and uncertainty.

Main Differences Between Allegory vs Metaphor

The difference between allegory and metaphor is not as simple as the definitions we shared above. There is more to it, as you are about to see from the table below.

Basis of ComparisonAllegoryMetaphor
DefinitionAn art or literary device that has a hidden meaning that may be moral, political, or otherwiseA figure of speech that refers to one thing by mentioning another for a literal effect
TypesBiblical, classical, and modernStandard, implied, visual, and extended
NatureComplicated and is usually longer, comprising of passagesStraightforward and short. Can be expressed in a sentence
RepresentationExtensive ideasLimited imagery

Difference Between Allegory and Metaphor: Conclusion

In conclusion, one of the most obvious allegory vs metaphor facts is that the latter is straightforward while the former is usually complex. These two have remained an indelible part of literature to bring a certain level of beauty, emphasis, and clarity to what would have been a mundane and impoverished version.