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Work of written, oral, or visual expression that uses symbolic figures, objects, and actions to convey truths or generalizations about human conduct or experience. It encompasses such forms as the fable and parable. Characters often personify abstract concepts or types, and the action of the narrative usually stands for something not explicitly stated. Symbolic allegories, in which characters may also have an identity apart from the message they convey, have frequently been used to represent political and historical situations and have long been popular as vehicles for satire. Edmund Spenser's long poem The Faerie Queen is a famous example of a symbolic allegory.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on allegory, visit Britannica.com.