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Allegory in several famous literary works and its purpose in writting

Updated on November 28, 2012

Literature is different from writing something without purpose. The writers always have many ideas in their stories or poems through the literary devices such as: allegory, irony, metaphor, or satire. In American literature, we usually find numerous allegoric similes. They are one important part to make value of the writing.

Allegory means that use word or specific images to describe ideas and abstract concepts of author. We can think about it like tacit comparison, but in higher order. (University of Victoria, 1995) In my opinion, allegory makes literary works be more interesting as well as contain more meaning substance. When authors allegorize, they want to express their thought in many considerable areas such as love, racism or freedom through normal details. Readers should reflect on the book that be reading by themselves.

Each author has position of strength in each part. For example, in “The adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, Mark Twain pictured the landscape of Mississippi river with a lively pen. (Leo Marx, 1963, p.56) Besides, he also used satire when criticized old misconceptions in South of America. As for Harriet Beecher Stowe, the writing “Uncle Tom’s Cabin “of her had dramatic irony and ironized, censured chattel slavery system at once. And metaphor is taken to “Scarlet letter” of Nathaniel Hawthorne sensibly. However, we can find allegory in the whole of three stories. It proclaims that allegory is a great literary device.

In “Scarlet letter”, the scarlet letter A at chest of Hester symbol for the discrimination she was received from the townspeople. Nevertheless, it is also an emphasis about love and ethics in Puritanism colony. As for Hester, she symbolizes love affair, unfairness between man and woman. In the past, these issues were delicate. Nonetheless, Nathaniel Hawthorne allegorized them to abate as well as please all the readers. (Kathryn Van Spanckeren, 1998) For this reason, the book was evaluated high by others authors and literary critics.

Mississippi river in “The adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is also an allegoric image. This river is not just a river anymore. It is nature and essence simultaneously. (Lionel Trilling, 1948, p.7) The most impressive image of this writing is Huck and Jim float a raft on the river, look for freedom. The adventure of a little boy even symbolizes aspiration for freedom, especially black slaves. Abolitionism was mentioned gently because the book of Mark Twain is for children.

Similarly, in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, the black slaves, notably Uncle Tom was the embodiment of slavery. Although they are hard working, honest, loyal, they still were treated ruthlessly. (Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852) In addition, the sight of Eliza when she flees to protect her son or the pangs of parting of Uncle Tom’s family is just family sentiment. (Kathryn Van Spanckeren, 1998)

Both of “The adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is children’s book. Allegory seems to be very effective at creating an enjoyable story, however, still talk about social issues. Therefore, not only kids but also adult can read these stories. In my point of view, it is one different purpose of authors when using allegory. There is that make the book have educational meaning, moreover, suitable for all age group.

In conclusion, allegory helps the writing have more meaning while still be attractive. Issues are released interestingly or impressively by specific images. Allegory is used and appreciated high not only in American literature but also literature all over the world such as Vietnam, China and so on.


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