Difference Between Allegory and Metaphor (With Table)

An Allegory is a section of art or fine arts. It can be translated to disclose an invisible explanation. The interpretation can be political or principled. The goal about human lives, historical situation, or political are given out in the story by events and characters. The two-act as a representation of ideas.

Allegory represents something larger than they represent. As such, it can define a story and its characters have enough depth. A metaphor is a linguistic feature of a speech. It makes a direct differentiation between two separate things.

Metaphors are slightly different because they don’t use connecting words. They explain one thing is the other. The differentiation that a metaphor uses is relevant. It conveys the sense to another.

Allegory vs Metaphor

The difference between an allegory and metaphor is that allegory is a piece of literature characters, events, and images act as symbols. Metaphor, on the other hand, is a literal tool that compares two fixed things.


Comparison Table Between Allegory and Metaphor (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonAllegoryMetaphor
FunctionAllegory includes an unseen meaning to the statementA metaphor sets side by side two unconnected things
Use of the poetic instrumentsUsed to represent ideasUsed to represent imagery
The Scope or IdeaThe scope of allegory is extensiveThe idea of a metaphor is limited
Inherent meaningEstablishes a connection between politics or moralityIt has no underlying meaning
ComparisonAllegory differentiation is longer. It also comprises of passagesIts comparison is brief. It contains phrases or words
Connection to realityAllegory connection to reality is moreMetaphor connection to reality is less
TypeAllegory is complicatedMetaphor is straightforward
DefinitionA literature term where separate images, characters, and events act as symbolsA literature phrase that explains the differentiation between two independent things


What is Allegory?

An allegory is a figure of speech. It explains a masked meaning behind every literature or each piece of literature.

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Apart from its ordinary form, allegory is also available in the form of paintings, sculptures, and the likes. It gives a comprehensive extension of the narrative. The characters in an allegory relate to several aspects.

Allegory is used when the author is passing a hidden or complex message. In other words, in allegory symbolism is a key factor. A writer might use symbols, images, figures, or actions to expose ideas.  The goal may be historical, political, or human.

A good example of allegory is about the apple eaten by Adam and Eve. The apple was used to symbolize a good and bad idea.


What is Metaphor?

A metaphor is that language that creates a literary effect in a speech.  It makes undeclared differentiation between two separate things.

A metaphor defines one thing is the other, unlike a simile which states one thing as the other. Still, a metaphor uses an applicable comparison.

A metaphor brings to limelight some qualities of the character that you may fail to notice. Besides, it gives style to the artwork. As such, a metaphor adds meaning to normal things.

A good example of a metaphor is the saying “his life is open.”  You see the book and life are two different things. Yet, the openness of the book is used to compare to his life. This means his life has no secrets.

Main Differences Between Allegory and Metaphor


Allegory is a derivative of Allegoria. Allegoria is a Latin word meaning representation or an indirect language on the said statement. The metaphor was derived from an Old French Metaphore.  Old French Metaphore was traced to have originated from Latin Metaphora which means apply in the new situation.


The message or text conveyed by an allegory carries a hidden meaning. For instance, Adam and Eve ate a forbidden apple. A metaphor compares two unrelated things. For instance, life is not a bed of roses.


Allegory is a piece of written works where images, events, and characters stand for something else. Metaphor, on the other hand, is a poetic tool that compares two individual things.

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Underlying Meaning

Allegory carries inherent meaning all the time. Require deep research to understand the meaning. Metaphors do not have a hidden meaning. They are somewhat straightforward.

Connectivity to real-life

Allegory is closer to reality. Metaphors do not need to relate to reality.


An allegory is also an extended metaphor. It is why its scope is extensive than that of a metaphor. A metaphor is a sequence of simple words. They aren’t complex like allegory.

Literary Devices Used

In most cases, allegory makes use of symbolism. Metaphors make use of imagery.



Allegory and metaphor are two different literary devices. Their difference is stated well based on their definition, origin, and their application. Symbolism and usage also help to distinguish between the two.

Allegories, for instance, are seen in several literature aspects including sculptures, painting, and much more. When you look at metaphors, they are seen in the literature. This means that allegory has a broad presentation compared to a metaphor.

These similarities can make you get you confused. It gets more challenging because of both the metaphor and allegory use comparison. Above all, they are literary techniques.

But with examples such as my sister was boiling mad or the skies are going to be clear from now, it’s easier to know these are metaphors. Their meaning is direct.



  1. https://journals.co.za/content/neotest/32/1/AJA2548356_417
  2. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3796/8c0cd2c36ebf035c052dac466b3434236427.pdf
  3. https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/86493