Allegory a stylistic device based on metaphor


Allegory (Greek alegoria - "description of one thing under the name of another'') has a two-fold meaning: as a stylistic term. i.e. pertaining to the realm of rhetoric, and as a denomination for a genre in literature and art on the whole (painting, sculpture, dance, etc). It means expressing abstract ideas through concrete pictures, the transfer based on similarity of objects.
One shouldn't mistake allegory for metaphor and vice versa as the former is generally presented by a more or less complete text, whereas the latter is usually used within a lengthy text in combination with other expressive means. Speaking figuratively, metaphor is usually a brick in the structure of the text, where allegory is the corner­stone, as a rule.
The shortest allegorical texts are represented by proverbs, where we find a precept in visual form. The logical content of the precept is invigorated by the emotive force of the image. Thus the proverb Make hay while the sun shines implies a piece of advice having nothing in common with haymaking or sunshine: 'Make use of a favourable situation: do not miss an opportunity: do not waste time.'
Note. One should not confuse proverbs with maxims, i.e. with non-metaphorical precept, such as A friend in need is a friend indeed. Tins maxim names things directly rather than figuratively. It is understood literally, word-by-word, whereas a proverb can be interpreted just as an insepara­ble.


  • Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.    
  • The road (way) to hell is paved with good intentions.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • What will be will be! or Come what may!
  • You never know what you can do till you tiy.
  • No rose without a thorn.
  • Never promise a fish until it's caught.
  • If you can't have the best make the best of what you have.
  • Dot your i's and cross your t's.
  • Before you choose (make) a friend, eat a bushel of salt with him.
  • There's no place like home.
  • Better late than never.
  • Look before you leap.
  •  Beauty lies in lover's eyes.
  • When your deed is once begun never leave it till it's done.
  • All is not gold that glitters.
  • Early to bed. early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
  • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  • Every dog returns to its vomit.
  • There's many a slip between the cup and the lip.
  • Good fame sleeps, bad fame creeps.
  • If you want to make friends be one. Appetite comes with eating. Poverty is no vice (sin. disgrace). 
As you see proverbs are a means of expressing some truth in a figurative way. Some literary genres, fairy tales and fables among them, cany out the same function. Spe­cial attention should be paid to the latter. Seemingly simple on the surface, they con­tain a more serious idea to render, i.e. they always embody a moral truth.

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