Allegory is a literary device in which the characters, settings, or events of a story have a hidden meaning. The main character represents an idea or moral principle that can be used to teach a lesson or illustrate an important concept.
An allegory is quite different from a fable because it does not use animal characters and it does not have happy endings. Instead, the characters and events of an allegory represent abstract ideas or qualities and the story is often told from the point of view of one specific character who experiences all the events first hand. In addition, allegorical stories often have more than one layer of meaning so that readers can discover different meanings depending on their own experiences and perspectives.
In an allegory, there are two meanings: the literal meaning and the symbolic meaning. The literal meaning refers to what happens on the surface level of the story (for example, what happens between a man and his wife). The symbolic meaning refers to what is underneath (for example, how Jesus represents God).
The most famous allegory in literature is John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), which tells the story of Christian’s journey from his hometown to Heaven through many difficult trials and temptations along the way.