Allegory Novels and the Elements of Literature


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This is an easy “How to” Guide to help you get started in understanding the meaning of literary devices and elements that are commonly used in pieces of literature.


The following is a list of some popular books that are often assigned as a part of the English reading curriculum.  Many students are given English assignments so as to improve their skills in reading.  Often, students need to write essay responses, or give book reports after reading these novels. 

·         Animal Farm by George Orwell

·         1984 by George Orwell

·         Lord of the Flies by William Golding

·         Watership Down by Richard Adams

·         The Giver by Lois Lowry

·         The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

However, many students really don’t enjoy reading these books due to their difficulty.  This makes it difficult to finish their English homework.   The language is a bit hard to understand, and thus the books are not easy to read.  Many of these books are award-winning novels written by some of the most talented writers in English literature. 


Then why are these books so hard to read?

The answer is very simple.  The main thing that all of these books have in common is that they are all allegorical novels.  The best way to explain an allegory is to say that it is a story within a story.  Only by looking within the story, can we truly see the inner story that the author has written for the reader to interpret and understand.  The best way to practice understanding elements of literature is to read allegorical novels or short stories. 


The Purpose of an Allegorical Novel/Short Story

An allegory attempts to tell a story that conveys a deeper meaning apart from what is actually written in the story.  The author tries to convey a hidden message to the reader about a serious topic or issue. Usually the characters will symbolize some characteristics like greed, evil, or kindness.  Due to this reason, the literal meaning or the actual written text, and the figurative meaning that goes beyond the text, can be understood differently. 


A fable is very similar to an allegory because a fable has a very clear moral to the story at the end.  The same can be true for an allegory.  Even though an allegory does not explain this clearly to the reader, it is up to the reader to identify the literary elements and come to their own conclusion.  An allegory requires the reader to analyze and interpret the purpose and the point of the writing.  It is for this reason that a reader must be aware of all of the literary elements and devices in order to fully understand the author’s intent.


Let’s take a look at a few examples of literary elements and devices in order to help understand them.

Mood is often described as the atmosphere in which the characters are placed in by the writer. 

Examples of mood words: hopeful, wearisome, restless

Tone is the attitude that is expressed through the word choice of the writer.  Tone is often directly connected to connotations. 

Connotations are commonly understood to be ideas, images, or other words that we associate with a particular word.  Usually these are either negative or positive based on the word.

Examples of tone words and their connotations

Positive connotations                                          Negative connotations

Loving                                                                Hateful  

Excited                                                               Bitter

Friendly                                                              Angry

Figurative language is often used in an allegorical novel because it adds to the second story within the story.  It goes beyond the text by using words to express deeper meaning. This literary device attempts to show the reader rather than tell by improving the mood, tone, or theme of the text.

Some examples of figurative language in use are metaphors and similes.  They compare two things that we would usually expect to be unalike. 

A metaphor compares two things without using "like" or "as", whereas a simile uses "like" or "as"However, the use of the word "like" or "as" doesn’t make it a simile.  A comparison between two things must also be made.  A metaphor is a stronger comparison because it is understood to be a stronger statement.

·         Example of a metaphor:   You are my sunshine.

·         Example of a simile:   You are as bright as sunshine.

Reading an allegory doesn’t have to be difficult.  English homework help is available to help practise identifying literary elements and devices that are commonly found in reading.  Reading an allegory can be a fun activity as it creates interesting discussion and ideas.

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