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Decorative Initial Derived from the Greek for "other reading," the term allegory refers to a systematic symbolism which is a form of extended metaphor, a figurative narrative or description which conveys a veiled moral meaning. Objects, persons, and actions within the narrative represent abstract meanings which lie outside it: the events of the narrative, that is, continuously refer to another simultaneous structure of events or ideas. Successful allegories manage to evoke interest both in the narrative and in the ideas or meanings —mdash; religious, moral, political, personal, satiric — which lie behind it. Famous allegories (all of which were widely read throughout the nineteenth century) include Dante's Divine Comedy, Spenser's Faerie Queene and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

Last modified 1988