Updated: Sep 6, 2022
Start with the hidden story. What’s the underlying message you want to get across? Maybe you want to explore a historical event, or express your opinions about a moral idea. Figure out what your topic is and what you want to say about it.
Break the hidden story down. What are the most important characters or aspects of the hidden story? These will become the main characters, settings, and events in your allegory.
Pick a theme for the surface story and find correlations. The surface story should be very different from the hidden story. Science fiction and fantasy work really well for this purpose, as they give you free reign to invent a world that suits the hidden story perfectly. Then come up with characters, etc., to cover all the main elements you listed in Step 2.
(Literary Terms, 2016)
A really good example of an allegory
Animal Farm by George Orwell, first published in 1945 (Britanica, 2019), is one of the worlds most recognisable Allegorical novels. The book represents the Russian revolution and the rise of communism, and explains the issues within the utopian ideal that we are all equal in society and work for each other.
in the book, the pigs represent Communist leaders like Stalin, Lenin, and Trotsky, the dogs represent the KGB, the humans represent capitalists, the horses represent the working class, etc (Literary Terms, 2016). The book helps the audience to understand how corruption within the structure exists. One of the most famous lines in the novel reads:
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others(CITE!!)
This line is very important to the criticism of the story as the reason for the revolt was encouraged to enforce the idea of the poor and working classes being exploited by the Czar and that communism would be a better way of life for the people.
At the time of writing, 1945, the Second World War was ending and the would be the early days of The Cold War between, The then, Soviet Union and the United States of America. Although the fear of communism already existed before then. Orwells literature highlights how the peasants searching for a more fair life, give rise to a tyrannical leader and remain opressed. Post cold war, we can claim this was close to accurate for the people of the former soviet union.
People often use allegories in order to understand the world around them — whether it’s the world of politics, new technology, or the many ethical problems that challenge us today (Literary Terms, 2016).
5 Tips for Using Allegory in Writing
Think of an important idea you want to share with your reader. It should be something large and complex, and something that relates to the society you live in on a large scale.
Once you’ve decided on a topic, plan out your allegory. Think of how you will translate these real-world ideas into fictional scenes and characters. Carefully assign characters: animals are common, as in Aesop’s Fables and Animal Farm, but there is no rule about what sort of characters to use.
Whatever you choose, remember that your audience will be trying to figure out who each character represents in real life, so try not to confuse them with unrelated characters whose purpose is not clear.
Be sure to let your reader know how to read between the lines. You will need to leave clues without over-explaining your message. Don’t be so subtle that the readers will miss the point of the allegory.
The surface story must stand on its own. While the underlying message can be a bit abstract, this isn’t an essay or a speech. The top layer must still make sense and be intriguing in its own right.
(MasterClass staff, 2021)
Picking the theme for my allegory has dramatically changed over the past eleven weeks. Whereat the beginning I looked at the idea of COVID as the source of my story, culturally looking through the zombie media and other research, I find myself drawn toward human rights and race as the story I wish to tell.
With Shaun of the Dead, Instead of a full breakdown of the film, with the theme of my allegory, likely to be based on race equality, the last scene picks up on something that may be unnoticed by the audience. This is a year since the outbreak, zombies are been used within the service industry. As part of small clips and part of a range of tv shows looking into the event, this is likely a quickly dismissed or humorous result of the movie. It does question, though an ethical issue with the situation.
I sent out the video clip with the simple question of what people thought about the idea of using zombies as unskilled labour. The second response was the most interesting, in that there was an issue with the zombies taking away from humans for jobs. Is this a similar attitude to that of migrants working unskilled jobs in the UK?